European Social Fund Actions to promote Local Employment Initiatives: final synthesis report (February 2011)
Within its technical assistance to the European Social Fund’s strands on Transnational Cooperation and Innovation, DG EMPL assigned AEIDL to examine how Local Employment Initiatives have been supported by ESF over the last ten years.
A synthesis report was the final step in this mission, intended to enable the European Commission to make a sound input into the political discussions, at EU level and between the Member States, on the achievements of the ESF in promoting social innovations and mobilising for change at local level.
The first task was to review 10 Member States (Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Sweden) to determine how their ESF Operational Programmes had supported Local Employment Initiatives (LEIs) over the last 10 years, which bridge the last and current programming periods. Another set of 4 Member States (France, Germany, Spain and the UK) was subject to a further comprehensive analysis of the institutional context in which LEIs are implemented and delivered, and the related funding arrangements. The idea was to identify major trends and innovative elements in the development of LEIs that have received ESF support. Five case studies were identified to illustrate such trends.
All these background elements, including the working paper submitted for discussion during the two peer learning exchanges in November 2010 and February 2011, constitute an appendix to the synthesis report.
Executive summary (May 2011)
Local Employment Initiatives (LEIs) belong to this unclassifiable group of small-scale, multi stakeholders’ initiatives which keep being despised or acclaimed by the community of European Social Fund (ESF) managers, practitioners and experts. Their social innovation features – or social resilience to adapt to global change – are nonetheless put in evidence over ten years of ESF support.
LEIs are challenging the vertical approach to policy making in the field of labour market and social affairs through their integrated diagnosis and implementation methods at the level of the local ‘travel to work’ area, and act as catalysts for change in institutional reforms, accountability rules and monitoring procedures at regional, national and European levels.
They consume little public money and create economies of scale through coordinated delivery mechanisms. But the transaction costs related to the administrative burden often obliterate this low cost element. The simplification of funding rules of the ESF cohesion instrument has therefore become a burning issue for LEIs’ promoters / supporters.
This synthesis report about ESF support to LEIs refreshes our thinking over plans to exit the crisis and ways of stimulating social innovation. It provides new avenues to contribute to / challenge some of the Europe 2020 headline targets and Flagships Initiatives such as Youth on the Move or the Platform against Poverty.
AEIDL is contracted by the European Commission in order to provide technical assistance related to the European Social Fund’s Transnational Cooperation and Innovation strands. The views expressed by AEIDL experts remain informal and may not in any circumstance be regarded as the official position of the European Commission.