Transnational Cooperation

Transnational Cooperation

Transnational cooperation in the ESF helps develop better and more effective employment and social policies and improve the delivery of reforms, essentially by enabling people to learn from experiences and good practice in other countries.
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Transnational cooperation is implemented in three different ways:

  • on the basis of common themes, whereby Member States benefit from an EU-level platform established and operated by the Commission (the Common Framework);
  • without central coordination (the flexible approach);
  • through a combined approach of the above.

The Common Framework

The Common Framework’s primary focus is to bring together project promoters from different Member States and facilitate cooperation between them within transnational projects. It also serves as a forum for discussing issues relevant to the ESF between stakeholders in the different countries.
Common themes and networks
A set of common themes has been agreed to guide work within the Common framework:
Common theme
Possible sub-themes
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  • Employability and labour integration
  • Labour mobility
  • Employment services – improvement of and access to
  • Work-life balance
  • Adaptability
  • Work organisation
  • Green jobs
  • Active ageing

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  • Active inclusion in the labour market
  • Access to services (e.g. transport, health, welfare, housing, etc.)
  • Combating discrimination, such as Roma
  • Fighting against poverty
  • Community-led local development
Youth employment

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  • NEETs
  • Recent graduates
  • Mobility
  • Apprenticeships
  • Traineeships
Learning & skills

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  • Early school leaving
  • Vocational education and training
  • Accreditation (of prior learning)
  • Lifelong learning
  • Transitions within and between school and work
Social economy

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  • Social entrepreneurship (including outreach, start-up support, coaching/mentoring, social franchising)
  • Financial instruments to support social entrepreneurship (incl. microfinance)
  • Cooperatives
  • Pathways of integration from social economy to the normal economic circuit
Governance and public administration

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  • Judiciary reform
  • E-government
  • Policy and legislative processes
  • Human resources management
  • Results-based management
  • Monitoring and evaluation

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  • Simplified costs options
  • Financial instruments
  • Joint action plans

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  • European Code of Conduct on Partnership

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  • Integration policies
  • Labour market access
  • Skills recognition
For each of these themes the Commission has set up a Thematic Network including representatives from the bodies managing the ESF Operational Programmes, policy experts, stakeholders, academics and social partners.
On-line thematic forums have been implemented for these Thematic Networks as well as document repositories in the library.
These Thematic Networks continue the activities of the Learning Networks established in the 2007-2013 period.
Member States are encouraged to ensure that the knowledge created within the Thematic Networks is disseminated through new or existing national networks.
Coordinated calls for proposals
These constitute the core of the common framework, and aim to create synergies and effective partnerships among the Member States around the common themes. These calls enable projects in each participating country to apply for ESF support for work that includes a transnational component.
Two coordinated calls for proposals have taken place over the programming period, in 2016 and 2018, each covering most of the Common Themes. These coordinated calls comprise individual national and/or regional level calls launched by Managing Authorities (or Intermediate Bodies on their behalf) participating in the Common Framework, following a timetable and terms of reference agreed at EU level. It is part of the role of the thematic networks to ensure coordination between the different authorities in charge of these calls for proposals. In February 2017, an Impact Task Force started operating in order to enhance the capacity of Member States to launch transnational calls and mainstream the impact of transnational activities.

Tools to support transnational cooperation

A set of tools has been put in place to support transnational cooperation in the ESF, whether within the common framework or more broadly:
Online information and networking
The ESF Transnational Platform website is a one-stop shop for anyone interested in transnational cooperation in the ESF. It disseminates news relevant to transnational co-operation in the ESF, and supports all transnational calls for proposals as well as the nine Thematic Networks.
Partner-search database
The website contains a public partner search database. Interested project promoters can share their project ideas and search for projects from other countries that they could cooperate with. Partners sign a Transnational Cooperation Agreement, which is agreed by the ESF authority in each of their Member States.
In 2018, the European partner search database reached over 500 organisations which registered more than 400 projects.
A repository library regroups the key publications by the ESF TP.
quarterly newsletter is published, as well as periodic technical dossiers which help to improve the impact of ESF projects.
Besides our Thematic Networks periodic meetings, an annual event brings together practitioners to encourage mutual learning and to disseminate results among stakeholders. 
A panel of stakeholders, primarily European-level NGOs and social partners, is convened periodically to discuss issues that arise in the implementation of the ESF.
Information line - ESF TNC infoline
An information service is available for all transnational cooperation stakeholders, which can include Managing Authorities, social partners, NGOs, academia etc.:
ESF Transnational Platform,
AEIDL, Chaussée St-Pierre 260,
B-1040 Brussels
AEIDL is no longer managing the ESF Transnational Platform.
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