Transnational cooperation on the implementation of the European Social Fund (ESF) has a long- standing and successful history. It aims to foster the replication of initiatives that work well and increase the scale of innovative practices. Transnational cooperation also focuses on improving social cohesion and economic recovery after the COVID-19 related crisis. These areas are crucial for the wellbeing of people across Europe.
ESF Transnational Cooperation Platform
To foster transnational cooperation, the European Commission launched the ESF Transnational Cooperation Platform in 2020. The platform builds on work conducted by nine thematic networks operating between 2015 and 2019. It aims to:
- Improve cooperation between stakeholders in all Member States – sharing information, knowledge, and experience with the aim to develop joint solutions to common challenges
- Build the capacity, skills, and confidence of managing authorities and other stakeholders to apply new knowledge and transfer practices with the support of peers from other countries
- Inform EU and national employment policies and reforms, harnessing experiences from the ground
Communities of Practice
To increase the thematic focus and concentrate on ESF implementation, four Communities of Practice have been created. These enable members to share concerns, problems or passions about a topic, allowing deeper knowledge and expertise. They also empower members to help each other to solve problems by applying a practical approach.
Employment, education and skills
An inclusive labour market aiming at full employment is vital for ensuring both successful economies and societies. As such, it should be supported by well-developed and responsive education systems and other methods for updating skills. Challenges raised by the future of work, such as digitalisation, automation or wider economic crises, require strong local, national and regional partnerships between education, employment/skills groups and other organisations.
ESF transnational cooperation helps to reach out to groups such as those furthest away from the labour market and/or experiencing long-term unemployment. This community revolves around three sub-themes:
- Integration into employment of young, disadvantaged individuals Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs), including through youth mobility actions
- Long-term unemployment and employability of inactive persons
- Education and training, including transitions towards employment and synergies between funding instruments.
The overall objective of this community is to contribute to a better use of ESF/ESF+ funding. This is done through promoting and facilitating the design and implementation of measures to reduce administrative costs and burden for ESF authorities and stakeholders.
The community of practice on results-based management focuses on the exchange of knowledge, experience and practice exchanges at European level around these key sub-themes:
- Simplified Cost Options (SCOs)
- Exchanges of good practices and updating the mapping of SCOs across the EU
- Supporting the design of EU-level SCOs
- Identifying practices and recommendations for the next programming period
- Audit of SCOs and partnerships between managing and audit authorities
- Results-based approaches
- Developing methodologies for 'financing methods not linked to costs' (Article 89 of the Common Provisions Regulation) and their application in the ESF+
- Simplification of ESF/ESF+
- Reduction of administrative costs and burden, and shift the focus towards results
Stark divisions in our societies caused by social inequalities and cuts to services have been exacerbated in 2020 with the COVID-19 outbreak. The health crisis and its economic and social consequences will have a stronger impact on the most vulnerable – including individuals with poor health, without a home, migrants, low-income earners and single-parent families.
This community has addressed three sub-themes:
- Child poverty, focusing on providing equal opportunities by promoting access to – and completion of - quality, inclusive education starting from early childhood, in particular for disadvantaged groups
- Deinstitutionalisation and transition to independent living and community-based services
- Homelessness, focusing on Housing First approaches
The community of practice aims to strengthen Member States’ capacity to programme and deliver on social innovation under the ESF+, with activities related to:
- Social innovation elements of ESF+ programmes;
- Community-led local development (CLLD);
- Upscaling innovative approaches.
The community of practice has also explored Community-led local development (CLLD) as a way to contribute to social innovation through its bottom-up approach and by creating new partnerships and responding to local needs. Also known as LEADER under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), it has first been used under the ESF and ERDF during the 2014-2020 programming period.
Online information and networking
The ESF Transnational Cooperation Platform has an essential aim: mutual learning. It provides the possibility to actively participate in study visits, peer reviews, peer-to-peer trainings, workshops, webinars, and EU-level conferences tailored to your interests and needs.