New EU Programme for Social Change and Innovation

Today, 6 October 2011, Commissioner Johannes Hahn (Regional Policy) and Commissioner László Andor (Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) presented a legislative package for cohesion policy for the period from 2014 until 2020 adopted by European Commission. The package is designed to boost growth and jobs across Europe by targeting EU investment on Europe’s Growth and Jobs Agenda (“Europe 2020”).

The package includes:
• An overarching regulation setting out common rules governing the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). This will allow for the better combination of funds for a stronger impact of EU action.
• Three specific regulations for the ERDF, the ESF and the Cohesion Fund.
• Two regulations dealing with the European territorial cooperation goal and the European grouping of territorial cooperation (EGTC).
• Two regulations on the European Globalisation Fund (EGF) and the Programme for Social Change and Innovation.
• A communication on the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF)

Part of the proposal is the [ http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=89&newsId=1093&furtherNews=yes ]Programme for Social Change and Innovation (PSCI) as an instrument to be managed directly by the Commission, in support of employment and social policies across the EU. The PSCI integrates three existing programmes: Progress (Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity), EURES (European Employment Services) and the European Progress Microfinance Facility and extends their coverage. The PSCI will support policy coordination, sharing of best practices, capacity-building and testing of innovative policies, with the aim that the most successful measures be up-scaled with support from the European Social Fund.

With the new proposal, the overall EURES system will be strengthened beyond 2013: EURES activities at national and cross-border level will be financed under the European Social Fund, supporting workers’ mobility and helping companies recruit abroad at EU level, the EURES Portal will offer modernised self-service tools for jobseekers and employers. Moreover, the EU level of EURES will be used to create and develop new targeted mobility schemes such as the Your First EURES Job scheme. This is currently being carried out as a pilot project under the form of a Preparatory Action to help young people (18-30) find a job in another Member State, while encouraging SMEs, the largest group of employers in the EU, to offer young people work. The overall EURES budget is expected to remain the same, at around 20 million euro per year, but the budget foreseen for Your First EURES Job as from 2014 will be EUR 10 million per year.

Next steps:
These proposals will now be discussed by the Council and the European Parliament, with a view to adoption by the end of 2012, to allow for the start of a new generation of cohesion policy programmes in 2014. Negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework for the whole EU budget will continue in parallel. The Commission has already proposed to allocate €336 billion for cohesion policy instruments in 2014-2020.

Press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/11/1159&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
The legislative proposals can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/what/future/proposals_2014_2020_en.cfm