Tag Archives: Social and economic cohesion

General provisions ERDF – ESF – Cohesion Fund

General provisions ERDF – ESF – Cohesion Fund

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about General provisions ERDF – ESF – Cohesion Fund

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > General framework

General provisions ERDF – ESF – Cohesion Fund (2007-2013)

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 [See amending acts].

Summary

The aim of the Regulation is to strengthen economic and social cohesion in order to promote the harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of the European Union (EU) regions for the period 2007-2013. European cohesion policy aims to respond to the challenges linked to economic, social and territorial inequalities, the acceleration of economic restructuring and the ageing of the population.

This Regulation:

  • defines the context for cohesion policy (including the Community strategic guidelines for cohesion, growth and employment);
  • defines the objectives to which the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund (hereinafter referred to as “the Funds”) are to contribute;
  • defines the criteria Member States and regions must meet to be eligible for the Funds;
  • defines the financial resources available and the criteria for allocating them;
  • defines the principles and lays down the rules on partnership, programming, evaluation, management, monitoring and inspection on the basis of responsibilities shared between the Member States and the Commission.

THREE NEW OBJECTIVES

A total of EUR 308.041 billion will be allocated to financing regional policy between 2007 and 2013 to work towards the three new objectives: Convergence, Regional Competitiveness and Employment and Territorial Cooperation. These objectives will supersede the former Objectives 1, 2 and 3 for the 2000-2006 programming period.

Convergence

The Convergence objective is quite close to the previous “Objective 1”. It aims to help the least-developed Member States and regions catch up more quickly with the EU average by improving conditions for growth and employment. It covers the Member States and regions whose development is lagging behind. The fields of action will be physical and human capital, innovation, knowledge-based society, adaptability to change, the environment and administrative effectiveness. It will be financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund.

The total resources allocated to this objective are EUR 251.163 billion, equivalent to 81.54 % of the total. The following are eligible:

  • for the Structural Funds (ERDF and ESF):
    1. regions where per capita GDP is below 75 % of the European average. They must be at NUTS II level. They will receive 70.51 % of the funds allocated for this objective;
    2. regions where per capita GDP has risen above 75 % of the European average (due to the statistical effect of EU enlargement including more deprived regions) will benefit from transitional, specific and degressive financing. They will receive 4.99 % of the total allocation;
  • for the Cohesion Fund: Member States whose per capita Gross National Income (GNI) is below 90 % of the European average and which are running economic convergence programmes. They will receive 23.22 % of the resources allocated for this objective. Regions where per capita GNI has risen to above 90 % of the European average (due to the statistical effect of EU enlargement including more deprived regions) will benefit from transitional, specific and degressive financing;
  • for specific financing from the ERDF: the outermost regions. The aim is to facilitate their integration into the internal market and to take account of their specific constraints (such as compensation for excess costs due to their remote location).

For this objective, the following ceilings apply to co-financing rates:

  • 75 % of public expenditure co-financed by the ERDF or the ESF. The ceiling can be raised to 80 % where the eligible regions are located in a Member State covered by the Cohesion Fund, and even to 85 % in the case of the outermost regions;
  • 85 % of public expenditure co-financed by the Cohesion Fund;
  • 50 % of public expenditure co-financed in the outermost regions (a new additional allocation from the ERDF to compensate for excess costs).

Regional Competitiveness and Employment

The Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective aims to strengthen the competitiveness, employment and attractiveness of regions other than those which are the most disadvantaged. It must help to anticipate economic and social changes, promote innovation, entrepreneurship, protection of the environment, accessibility, adaptability and the development of inclusive labour markets. It will be financed by the ERDF and the ESF.

The eligible regions are:

  • regions which fell under Objective 1 during the period 2000-06, which no longer meet the regional eligibility criteria of the Convergence objective, and which consequently benefit from transitional support. The Commission will produce a list of these regions. Once adopted, the list will be valid from 2007 to 2013;
  • all other EU regions not covered by the Convergence objective.

With regard to the programmes financed by the ESF, the Commission proposes four priorities within the European Employment Strategy (EES): to improve the adaptability of workers and businesses, to increase social inclusion, to improve access to employment and to implement reforms in the fields of employment and inclusion.

The resources intended for this objective total EUR 49.13 billion, equivalent to 15.95 % of the total and divided equally between the ERDF and the ESF. Of this amount:

  • 78.86 % is intended for the regions not covered by the Convergence objective.
  • 21.14 % is earmarked for transitional degressive support.

Under this objective, measures can be co-financed up to 50 % of public expenditure. The ceiling is 85 % for the outermost regions.

European Territorial Cooperation

The European Territorial Cooperation objective aims to strengthen cross-border, transnational and inter-regional cooperation. It is based on the old European INTERREG initiative and will be financed by the ERDF. It aims to promote common solutions for neighbouring authorities in the fields of urban, rural and coastal development, the development of economic relations and the creation of networks of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Cooperation will be based around research, development, information society, the environment, risk prevention and integrated water management.

13 Regions eligible for funding are those regions at NUTS III level which are situated along internal land borders, certain external land borders and certain regions situated along maritime borders separated by a maximum of 150 km. The Commission will adopt a list of eligible regions.

In the case of networks of cooperation and exchange of experience, the entire EU territory is eligible. The ceiling for co-financing is 75 % of public expenditure.

The resources intended for this objective total EUR 7.75 billion, equivalent to 2.52 % of the total, fully covered by the ERDF. This amount will be distributed between the different components as follows:

  • 73.86 % for financing cross-border cooperation;
  • 20.95 % for financing transnational cooperation;
  • 5.19 % for financing interregional cooperation.

PROVISIONS SPECIFIC TO THE THREE OBJECTIVES

Principles of operation

The Funds will provide assistance which complements national action, including action at regional and local levels. The Commission and the Member States will ensure that assistance from the Funds is consistent with the activities, policies and priorities of the EU and complementary to other European financial instruments.

The objectives of the Funds will be pursued according to multiannual programming and close cooperation between the Commission and each Member State.

Strategic approach

The Council adopts the Community strategic guidelines for Cohesion before 1 January 2007. These guidelines define the priorities and objectives of the cohesion policy for the period 2007-2013. They therefore contribute to the coherent and effective implementation of the structural funds

Based on these guidelines, Member States then adopt a national strategic reference framework. This framework therefore serves as the base for programming actions financed by the Funds. It ensures the that interventions of the funds are in-line with the strategic guidelines.

Operational programmes

The Member States’ operational programmes are to cover the period from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013.Operational programmes deal with only one of the three objectives and receive financing from a single Fund. The Commission appraises each programme proposed to determine whether it contributes to the objectives and priorities of:

  • the national strategic reference framework;
  • the Community strategic guidelines on cohesion.

Operational programmes relating to the Convergence and Regional Competitiveness and Employment objectives must include:

  • justification for the priorities in view of the strategic guidelines on cohesion and the national strategic reference framework;
  • information on the priority areas and their specific objectives;
  • a financing plan;
  • the implementing provisions for the operational programme;
  • a list of major projects linked to an operation comprising a set of works, activities or services whose total cost exceeds EUR 25 million in the case of the environment and EUR 50 million in the other fields.

Management, monitoring and inspections

Member States will be responsible for the management and control of operational programmes. They will ensure that the management and control systems are set up in accordance with the provisions of this Regulation. They will also prevent, detect and correct irregularities and recover amounts unduly paid.

The management and control systems of operational programmes set up by Member States will provide for:

  • the definition of the functions of the bodies involved in management and control;
  • compliance with the principle of separation of functions between these bodies;
  • procedures for ensuring the correctness and regularity of expenditure declared under the operational programme;
  • reliable accounting, monitoring and financial reporting systems;
  • a system of reporting and monitoring where the responsible body entrusts the execution of tasks to another body;
  • arrangements for auditing the functioning of the systems;
  • systems and procedures to ensure an adequate audit trail;
  • reporting and monitoring procedures for irregularities and the recovery of amounts unduly paid.

For each operational programme, the Member State will designate the following:

  • a managing authority (a national, regional or local public authority or a public or private body which manages the operational programme);
  • a certifying authority (a national, regional or local public authority or body which certifies statements of expenditure and applications for payment before they are sent to the Commission);
  • an audit authority (a national, regional or local public authority or body designated for each operational programme and responsible for verifying the effective functioning of the management and control system).

Information and publicity

The Member States and the managing authority for the operational programme will provide information on and publicise operations and programmes which receive co-financing. The information will be addressed to EU citizens and the beneficiaries, with the aim of highlighting the role of the Community and ensuring that assistance from the Funds is transparent.

BACKGROUND

The other provisions on cohesion policy for the period 2007-2013 are set out in the four specific regulations on:

  • the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF);
  • the European Social Fund (ESF);
  • the Cohesion Fund;
  • the European grouping of cross-border cooperation (EGCC).

Politically speaking, the financial basis of the cohesion policy for 2007-2013 is the Interinstitutional Agreement and the Financial Framework for 2007-2013.

SUMMARY TABLE

Objectives Financial instruments
Convergence ERDF
ESF
Cohesion funds
Regional competitiveness and employment ERDF
ESF
European territorial cooperation ERDF

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006

1.8.2006

OJ L 210 of 31.7.2006

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1341/2008

24.12.2008

OJ L 348 of 24.12.2008

Regulation (EC) No 85/2009

30.1.2009

OJ L 25 of 29.1.2009

Regulation (EC) No 284/2009

9.4.2009

OJ L 94 of 8.4.2009

Regulation (EU) No 539/2010

25.6.2010

OJ L 158 of 24.6.2010

Regulation (EU) No 1310/2011

23.12.2011

OJ L 337 of 20.12.2011

Regulation (EU) No 1311/2011

20.12.2011

OJ L 337 of 20.12.2011

Regulation (EU) No 423/2012

23.5.2012

OJ L 133 of 23.5.2012

Subsequent amendments and corrections to Regulation No 1083/2006 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference purposes only.

Related Acts

Commission Decision 2010/802/EU of 21 December 2010 exempting certain cases of irregularity arising from operations co-financed by the Structural Funds and by the Cohesion Fund for the 2000-2006 programming period from the special reporting requirements laid down by Article 5(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1681/94 and by Article 5(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1831/94 [Official Journal L 341 of 23.12.2010].

Commission Decision 2007/766/EC of 14 November 2007 drawing up the list of regions and areas eligible for financing under the Cross-border Cooperation Component of the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance for the purpose of cross-border cooperation between Member States and beneficiary countries for the period 2007 to 2013 [Official Journal L 310 of 28.11.2007].

Commission Decision 2006/769/EC of 31 October 2006 drawing up the list of regions and areas eligible for funding from the European Regional Development Fund under the cross-border and transnational strands of the European Territorial Cooperation objective for the period 2007 to 2013 [Official Journal L 312 of 11.11.2006].

Commission Decision 2006/597/EC of 4 August 2006 drawing up the list of regions eligible for funding from the Structural Funds on a transitional and specific basis under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective for the period 2007-2013 [Official Journal L 243 of 6.9.2006].

Commission Decision 2006/596/EC of 4 August 2006 drawing up the list of regions eligible for funding from the Cohesion Fund for the period 2007-2013 [Official Journal L 243 of 6.9.2006].

Commission Decision 2006/595/EC of 4 August 2006 drawing up the list of regions eligible for funding from the Structural Funds under the Convergence objective for the period 2007-2013 [Official Journal L 243 of 6.9.2006].

A stronger partnership for the outermost regions

A stronger partnership for the outermost regions

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A stronger partnership for the outermost regions

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Regional policy > Provisions and instruments of regional policy

A stronger partnership for the outermost regions

Document or Iniciative

Commission communication of 26 May 2004. “A stronger partnership for the outermost regions” [COM(2004) 343 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Seven of the regions in the European Union are classified as ‘outermost’: the four French overseas departments (Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Martinique and Réunion), the Spanish Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, and the Portuguese autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira.

The outermost regions have to cope with specific constraints – remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate, as well as economic dependence on a few products – all factors the permanence and combination of which severely restrain their socio-economic development. (Article 299(2) of the EC Treaty).

Priorities for action

The action plan for developing the outermost regions proposed by the Commission will be grouped in three fields of action to take into account their specific needs. The three priorities for action are:

  • promoting accessibility. The proposed measures are designed to reduce the main constraints arising from the isolation of these regions.
  • improving competitiveness. This priority aims to create an economic environment that favours the setting up of businesses. Otherwise, firms remain restricted to a limited local market that is fragmented and remote.
  • prioritising regional intergration. Regional intergration aims to develop trade in goods and services between these regions and neighbouring non-member countries. It is important to encourage their intergration into their surrounding geographical area.

COHESION POLICY REFORM

The strategy comes under the general context of the European Cohesion Policy reform for the period 2007-13. The third report on social and economic cohesion of February 2004 sets out the Commission’s priorities for the cohesion policy after 2006. In the context of the outermost regions, the report states that these regions are eligible for any of the regional policy objectives after 2006: Convergence, Regional Competitiveness and Employment and European Territorial Cooperation.The report also proposes

  • setting up a specific programme to compensate for additional costs;
  • implementing the ‘wider neighbourhood’ action plan.

These elements are the subject of the legislative proposals (proposals for Regulations of 14 July 2004 – general regulation and ERDF Regulation) and non legislative proposals (strategic Community guidelines) by the Commission, in particular within the general context of the reformed European Cohesion Policy.

Additional allocation to compensate for extra costs

For the period 2007-13, the Commission proposes an additional allocation to compensate for the handicaps and constraints of the outermost regions, which cause additional production costs. The program will be financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

This allocation aims to reduce the problems set out in the EC Treaty that, along with the factors of competitivity and accessibility, hinder the economy of the outermost regions.

The objectives of the programme are aimed at compensating:

  • difficulties of access due to their great isolation, fragmentation and topography;
  • small regional markets, breaking bulk and no or inadequate economic diversification;
  • environmental and climatic difficulties and the preservation of biodiversity.

The ‘wider neighbourhood’ action plan

A “wider neighbourhood” measure aimed at facilitating cooperation with the neighbouring countries, thereby increasing economic, social and cultural links, trade in goods and services and the movement of people. These regions are very close to the geographical markets of the Caribbean, America and Africa, particularly those of the ACP countries (African, Caribbean and Pacific countries parties to the Cotonou Agreement). This is not a financial instrument, but a Commission initiative in order to coordinate the efforts being made by the Community more efficiently, in all policies concerned.

The reformed European Cohesion Policy’s contribution to this action plan would be included under the new “European territorial cooperation” programme, which is based on two main principles:

  • transnational and cross-border cooperation;
  • trade and customs measures.

The priorities in the context of the European transnational and cross-border cooperation will require the following guidelines to be taken into account:

  • facilitating exchanges as regards transport, services and the information and communications technologies;
  • facilitating exchanges of persons (including the fight against illegal immigration);
  • exchanges of experience as regards regional integration.

The commercial policy’s contribution to this action plan is based on the actions in the field of commercial trade, and customs measures that focus on the need for the outermost regions to be integrated into their regional economy more efficiently. On one hand, the outermost regions must be included in the economic partnership agreements (EPA) between the EU and the ACP countries (ACP-EU) within the general context of the Cotonou Agreement. On the other hand, the outermost regions must be included in the Union’s preferential agreements with other non-member countries. In this context, the customs aspects must be taken into account.

OTHER COMMUNITY POLICIES

As well as the cohesion policy, the instruments used under the other Community policies can also help implement the development strategy for the outermost regions. These instruments come under the context of actions linked to competitiveness, growth and the specific constraints of the outermost regions.

Actions linked to competitiveness and growth

The additional costs impact on most of the sectors of the local economy producing goods and services in the outermost regions. This has resulted in a very poor diversification, an economy that is weak in job-creation and a higher degree of dependency than in the rest of the Union.

To overcome these constraints, this communication proposes the following actions linked to competitivity and growth in the following areas:

  • developing human resources;
  • public services, due to the lack of any real competition between economic operators, whether public or private;
  • innovation, the information society and research and technological development (in conjunction with the objectives of the Lisbon strategy);
  • the environment.

The specific characteristics which affect the situation of the outermost regions must also be taken into account as part of the revision of the guidelines on State aids for regional purposes.

Action on the constraints on the outermost regions

Use of the existing instruments in the fields of air transport and sea transport can reduce the impact of poor access to the outermost regions. The links concerned are those between the outermost regions and mainland Europe (in both directions), between the outermost regions themselves and within those regions.

In addition the Commission proposes several measures in the agriculture sector (regarding the Rural Development Fund, reforming the specific regulations for guidance on the remoteness and insularity (POSEI) or the scheme for the sugar and banana sectors, for example) and in the fisheries sector (under the new European Fisheries Fund, for example), taking into account the fragile production in these sectors.

Context

In order to press ahead with the implementation of Article 299(2) on the EC Treaty of the special status of the outermost regions, the Seville European Council June 2002 invited the Commission to submit a strategy for the outermost regions. The communication of May 2004 following this decision and implements the measures in this communication.

Related Acts

Commission Report, 14 March 2000, on the measures to implement Article 299(2) – the outermost regions of the European Union [COM(2000) 147 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Commission Report, 19 December 2002, on implementation of Article 299(2) of the EC Treaty: measures to assist the outermost regions [COM(2002) 723 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission, 18 February 2004. « A new partnership for Cohesion – Convergence, Competitiveness, Co-operation» Third Report on Economic and Social Coheison [COM(2004) 107 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Proposal for a Council Regulation, 14 July 2004, laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund [COM(2004) 492 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council, 14 July 2004, on the European Regional Development Fund [COM(2004) 495 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission, 6 August 2004, A stronger partnership for the outermost regions: situation and prospects (COM(2004) 343),

Communication from the Commission, 26 May 2004) [COM(2004) 543 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a temporary scheme for the restructuring of the sugar industry in the European Community and amending Regulation (EC) No 1258/1999 on the financing of the common agricultural policy [COM(2005) 263 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

 

European Job Mobility Action Plan

European Job Mobility Action Plan

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Job Mobility Action Plan

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Living and working in the internal market

European Job Mobility Action Plan (2007-2010)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 6 December 2007 – Mobility, an instrument for more and better jobs: The European Job Mobility Action Plan (2007-2010) [COM(2007) 773 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Although European workers seem more willing to be mobile than before, job mobility rates are increasing relatively slowly in the European Union (EU). Uncertainty as to the advantages of mobility and the numerous administrative and legal barriers present are among the reasons for this. It is thus essential to implement new actions to encourage mobility. This is why the Commission proposes, with a view to tackling the new challenges of mobility, an action plan consisting of four strands.

Action Plan 2007-2010

Improving existing legislation and administrative practices is the first objective. Four actions are proposed in this field:

  • examining whether Community legislation needs to be amended to allow workers to move freely, according to the new mobility patterns, without losing their social protection;
  • legally strengthening the role of the TRESS network of independent experts in the area of social security coordination at European level (dissemination of knowledge, reports and expert advice). Consultation with stakeholders and an impact assessment should determine whether administrative practices or regulatory provisions need to be amended;
  • further simplifying national cooperation and administration practices (exchange and consultation of information electronically, launching an electronic version of the European health insurance card, etc.) in order to accelerate and facilitate the reimbursement of migrant workers’ social security expenditure;
  • concluding the proposals on the portability of supplementary pension rights in order to improve the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights.

Moreover, combining flexibility and mobility (flexicurity ()) should contribute to the Lisbon Strategy, by making it possible for more workers to find more and better jobs.

Ensuring that the national, regional and local authorities promote mobility at their respective levels is the second objective. In this respect, the Member States should:

  • make mobility a priority objective of their national strategy for employment and lifelong learning ;
  • learn from best practices through mutual learning programmes which may receive EU Cohesion Policy funding. In this context, an inventory of such programmes will be carried out and the possibility of developing European mobility programmes will be examined;
  • use the European Qualifications Framework, promote Europass and develop the European Credit Transfer System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET).

In addition, regional and local authorities, education and training centres and civil society will be encouraged to remove practical obstacles and to promote ‘fair mobility’, which respects labour standards and legal provisions.

Moreover, several actions are proposed to extend the scope and quality of the services provided byEURES in the area of worker mobility, namely:

  • increasing the provision of information and raising awareness on the principle of equal treatment and respect for labour standards within European markets;
  • stepping up the collection of strategic information in order to strengthen its analytical capacity;
  • enhancing the assistance provided to mobile workers in the EU, in particular with regard to specific categories of workers;
  • extending, in certain cases, some of these services to third-country nationals.

Action is planned on three fronts in order to increase citizens’ awareness on mobility:

  • organising annual ‘European Job Days’ not only to better inform citizens about their rights and the benefits of mobility but also to step up exchanges among the different stakeholders;
  • launching a ‘European Job Mobility Partnership’, and setting up a network to promote mobility;
  • incorporating into the PROGRESS programme support for the funding of pilot activities, the exchange of best practice, the dissemination of results on new developments and the emergence of innovative programmes.

Background

Job mobility must make it possible to confront the new challenges related to an ageing society and a constantly changing market, all the more so if one considers the new opportunities for both workers and employers following EU enlargement. The Lisbon Strategy and the European Employment Strategy have, furthermore, officially recognised increased geographical and occupational mobility as essential means of adapting in the context of rapidly changing labour markets. This Communication is intended to build on the series of initiatives to promote mobility. The Commission wishes to learn from the experience gained through the 2002 Action Plan for Skills and Mobility and the 2006 European Year of Workers’ Mobility.


Another Normative about European Job Mobility Action Plan

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Employment and social policy > European Strategy for Growth > Growth and jobs

European Job Mobility Action Plan (2007-2010)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 6 December 2007 – Mobility, an instrument for more and better jobs: The European Job Mobility Action Plan (2007-2010) [COM(2007) 773 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Although European workers seem more willing to be mobile than before, job mobility rates are increasing relatively slowly in the European Union (EU). Uncertainty as to the advantages of mobility and the numerous administrative and legal barriers present are among the reasons for this. It is thus essential to implement new actions to encourage mobility. This is why the Commission proposes, with a view to tackling the new challenges of mobility, an action plan consisting of four strands.

Action Plan 2007-2010

Improving existing legislation and administrative practices is the first objective. Four actions are proposed in this field:

  • examining whether Community legislation needs to be amended to allow workers to move freely, according to the new mobility patterns, without losing their social protection;
  • legally strengthening the role of the TRESS network of independent experts in the area of social security coordination at European level (dissemination of knowledge, reports and expert advice). Consultation with stakeholders and an impact assessment should determine whether administrative practices or regulatory provisions need to be amended;
  • further simplifying national cooperation and administration practices (exchange and consultation of information electronically, launching an electronic version of the European health insurance card, etc.) in order to accelerate and facilitate the reimbursement of migrant workers’ social security expenditure;
  • concluding the proposals on the portability of supplementary pension rights in order to improve the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights.

Moreover, combining flexibility and mobility (flexicurity ( src=”../../../../scadplus/images/lang_high_es.gif” alt=”castellano” height=”13″ lang=”es” width=”18/”>

src=”../../../../scadplus/images/lang_high_fr.gif” alt=”français” height=”13″ lang=”fr” width=”18/”>
)) should contribute to the Lisbon Strategy, by making it possible for more workers to find more and better jobs.

Ensuring that the national, regional and local authorities promote mobility at their respective levels is the second objective. In this respect, the Member States should:

  • make mobility a priority objective of their national strategy for employment and lifelong learning ;
  • learn from best practices through mutual learning programmes which may receive EU Cohesion Policy funding. In this context, an inventory of such programmes will be carried out and the possibility of developing European mobility programmes will be examined;
  • use the European Qualifications Framework, promote Europass and develop the European Credit Transfer System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET).

In addition, regional and local authorities, education and training centres and civil society will be encouraged to remove practical obstacles and to promote ‘fair mobility’, which respects labour standards and legal provisions.

Moreover, several actions are proposed to extend the scope and quality of the services provided by

EURES
in the area of worker mobility, namely:

  • increasing the provision of information and raising awareness on the principle of equal treatment and respect for labour standards within European markets;
  • stepping up the collection of strategic information in order to strengthen its analytical capacity;
  • enhancing the assistance provided to mobile workers in the EU, in particular with regard to specific categories of workers;
  • extending, in certain cases, some of these services to third-country nationals.

Action is planned on three fronts in order to increase citizens’ awareness on mobility:

  • organising annual ‘European Job Days’ not only to better inform citizens about their rights and the benefits of mobility but also to step up exchanges among the different stakeholders;
  • launching a ‘European Job Mobility Partnership’, and setting up a network to promote mobility;
  • incorporating into the PROGRESS programme support for the funding of pilot activities, the exchange of best practice, the dissemination of results on new developments and the emergence of innovative programmes.

Background

Job mobility must make it possible to confront the new challenges related to an ageing society and a constantly changing market, all the more so if one considers the new opportunities for both workers and employers following EU enlargement. The Lisbon Strategy and the European Employment Strategy have, furthermore, officially recognised increased geographical and occupational mobility as essential means of adapting in the context of rapidly changing labour markets. This Communication is intended to build on the series of initiatives to promote mobility. The Commission wishes to learn from the experience gained through the 2002 Action Plan for Skills and Mobility and the 2006 European Year of Workers’ Mobility.

Efficiency and equity in European education and training systems

Efficiency and equity in European education and training systems

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Efficiency and equity in European education and training systems

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Education training youth sport > Lifelong learning

Efficiency and equity in European education and training systems

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and to the European Parliament of 8 September 2006 on Efficiency and equity in European education and training systems [COM(2006) 481 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

When the Member States undertake reforms of their education and training systems, greater emphasis must be laid in education and training policies on the principles of efficiency and equity. The experiences of some Member States and the research on which this Communication is based show the beneficial effects which education and training policies can have in terms of equity and efficiency.

However, it is apparent that many education and training systems reproduce and even accentuate the existing inequalities, and the most vulnerable people are those with the lowest qualifications (32 % in 2004). Their record reveals that they do not have the same education and training opportunities as people who follow a full-time course, including courses of higher education.

Furthermore, education and training inequalities give rise to costs in terms of income tax, health expenditure and public aid, crime rates or delinquency (studies based on the USA and the United Kingdom). In contrast, education and training policies based on efficiency and equity offer the possibility of maximising long-term benefits, reducing economic and social costs and gaining added value for other policy fields such as sustainable development and social cohesion. Such initiatives do, admittedly, incur costs, but the costs of inaction and a high drop-out rate are higher.

Guaranteeing quality education and training for all EU citizens will also allow the EU to address the socio-economic challenges confronting it, namely the globalisation and competitiveness of newly industrialised countries, demographic patterns in the EU (its ageing population and migration flows), rapid changes in the nature of the labour market and the revolution in information and communication technologies (ICT).


Lifelong learning strategies

Efficiency and equity should be integrated on a forward-looking basis into lifelong learning strategies (national lifelong learning strategies must be adopted by the Member States by the end of 2006). Their repercussions and the effects of investment in education and training are substantial in the long term. In the context of these strategies, emphasis should be laid on:

  • long-term planning at local and national level when setting expenditure priorities;
  • validating learning in all contexts, including non-formal and informal frameworks, when it is conducive to the acquisition of knowledge or key skills. Such validation will be facilitated by the national and European qualifications frameworks;
  • an evaluation culture which makes it possible to establish solid data taken from research work, statistics or mechanisms to evaluate progress and thereby to support the effectiveness of the policy;
  • cross-sectoral policies. The lessening of inequalities does not stem only from education policy but also from its interplay with other policies on, for example, employment, the economy, social inclusion, youth, health, etc.

Education and training policies

Pre-primary education proves essential for the later stages of learning, especially in terms of achievement and socialisation. It helps to prevent early school-leaving, improve the fairness of results and raise overall skills levels, and also to reduce costs in other fields (unemployment, crime, etc.).

Which is why, following the example of Member States such as Belgium or Italy, pre-primary education must be accompanied by early intervention programmes so as to support the most disadvantaged. Furthermore, in order to consolidate the effectiveness of these programmes, they must be flanked by other intervention measures such as support for language learning and social adjustment.

These programmes must be suited to early childhood and take account of the type of education provided (learning, individual and social skills) and of pedagogical aspects (improvement in teacher supply, parental commitment). Parental commitment can itself be encouraged through special parental education and outreach programmes.

Primary and secondary education must be focused on the quality of basic education for all. In other words, the equitable provision of basic education and key skills must be guaranteed for everyone in a knowledge-based society. For instance, procedures such as early “tracking”, in other words the streaming of pupils aged between 10 and 12 according to their ability level into different programmes, should be avoided because this is a source of inequity, particularly in the case of the disadvantaged and immigrant populations.

Central accountability systems have been set up as a complement to the increased autonomy granted to schools in many Member States. This combination of institutional autonomy and accountability has proven to be positive in terms of effectiveness. However, it is necessary to ensure that the standards and evaluation criteria also take account of equity and the dispersion of results.

Here again, effectiveness and equity are guaranteed by appropriate education and teaching methods, achieved in particular by recruitment policies which ensure quality schooling. Furthermore, cooperation between teachers, parents and social support services must be encouraged, for instance by using updated social inclusion strategies based on a pedagogical approach.

Higher education, which encompasses education, research and innovation (“knowledge triangle”), is a key sector in the economy and in the knowledge-based society. That is why it must be more competitive and promote excellence, as underlined by the Commission in its Communication on the modernisation of universities in 2006. The Commission had proposed devoted 2 % of gross domestic product (GDP) to higher education within the next ten years.

Three elements are important for a modernised higher education system: it must be fair for everyone, be financially viable and play a more effective role. However, the national higher education systems which are free of charge are not necessarily the most equitable, because they favour people from privileged socio-economic backgrounds or who have been in higher education. In addition to this, the financing of higher education has not increased, unlike the number of students and the expectations placed on higher education. And the benefits enjoyed by students are not entirely compensated by the progressive taxation systems, which leads to an inverse redistribution effect.

It is therefore necessary to concentrate on investment in higher education, and in particular the introduction of registration fees. These will allow a fair rebalancing of the costs borne by individuals and society, and the benefits drawn by each person, while at the same time providing universities with additional funds. The quality of teaching, the management of the universities and student motivation would consequently improve.

However, in order to guarantee access for all to higher education, the introduction of registration fees must be compensated by financial assistance for the most disadvantaged because they generally invest less in their future when private returns are not guaranteed. This aspect is particularly important when registration fees are set according to an estimation of future return on investment. To solve this problem, the provision of study grants, bank loans and loans contingent on future income can encourage access to higher education.

At the same time, higher education must become more attractive for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, those who have the qualifications to enter higher education and also for young children and their families. The cultural perceptions of higher education must also be changed. Greater emphasis must therefore be laid on the provision of information through school visits, lifelong mentoring and guidance schemes, and comprehensive outreach and access policies (including bridging programmes and earmarked places).

The relationship between education and the world of work must be improved. Education should involve vocational training in order to make occupational schemes more attractive and facilitate the transition of university graduates with vocational qualifications. This is all the more necessary since the needs of the labour market have evolved, and there is now increased demand for more highly qualified workers. Furthermore, other factors such as the ageing of the population or unemployment among young people also enter into play; for instance, the number of Europeans of at least 65 years of age will increase by 65 % by 2050, whereas the working population (15 to 64 years) will decrease by 20 %.

Early intervention to increase participation in education and raise the level of studies is not enough to improve employment prospects. Clear, flexible courses starting with vocational education and moving on to an apprenticeship and employment need to be introduced, following the example of the vocational education and training systems (VET). They offer participants the possibility of reasonable returns in the form of income.

Adult education also helps people adapt to a changing world of work and thereby improve their employment prospects. However, people with the fewest qualifications are those who benefit the least from learning and training in their working lives. Only 10.8 % of European adults take part in a formal, non-formal or informal learning activity throughout their lives, which is far below the EU reference level, namely participation of 12.5 % by 2010.

These training courses offer considerable cultural and social benefits (motivation and feeling of social commitment, reintegration into the learning cycle). Here again, however, the track record of these programmes’ ability to enhance the employment prospects of disadvantaged adults has generally been mediocre. It can be improved in two ways:

  • in education, through partnerships between businesses, the public sector, the social partners and local organisations in the community sector which focus on target groups and their needs. Such partnerships have been successful in preventing drop-out;
  • in working life, through training courses in the form of partnerships which focus on the skills required by employers. These courses match the skills required on the labour market and also aim to reconcile supply and demand and facilitate training and career choices. They have been effective in improving the employment prospects of the disadvantaged. The Member States offer information and training programmes, thereby encouraging private investment and easing the costs borne by businesses and workers. In parallel to this, employers must invest in education and training in order to remain competitive and assume their social responsibility, which entails becoming “learning organisations”.

EU action

The Member States are responsible for their education and training policies, but EU-wide action can promote mutual learning and exchanges of good practices between Member States. The EU therefore helps the Member States to integrate the principles of effectiveness and equity into their education and training systems under the revised Lisbon Strategy and the ” Education and Training 2010 ” work programme.

Furthermore, these principles will also be integrated into the work on adult education, the creation of a European Qualifications Framework and a European framework of statistics and indicators in addition to research projects which are part of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development.

The action programme in the field of lifelong learning and transnational cooperation through the mobility of individuals will also encourage the acquisition of new skills and adaptation to the European labour market while improving quality and connections between education and training institutions in the EU.

Context

The EU Member States must have high-quality education and training systems in order to meet the challenges of competitiveness and social cohesion. These objectives are part of the Lisbon partnership for growth and employment, and of the open method of coordination on social inclusion and social protection. The spring European Council of 23 and 24 March 2006 reiterated not only their importance but also the need to accelerate the pace of reform.

Key terms used in the act
  • Efficiency “involves the relationship between inputs and outputs in a process. Systems are efficient if the input produces the maximum output. Relative efficiency within education systems is usually measured through test and examination results, while their efficiency in relation to wider society and the economy is measured through private and social rates of return.”
  • Equity “is viewed as the extent to which individuals can take advantage of education and training, in terms of opportunities, access, treatment and outcomes. Equitable systems ensure that the outcomes of education and training are independent of socio-economic background and other factors that lead to educational disadvantage and that treatment reflects individuals’ specific learning needs.”

Related Acts

The Education, Youth and Culture Council of 13 and 14 November 2006 adopted its conclusions on this Communication. It recalled the role of the Member States and the benefits of cooperation at European level, and supported the need for a trans-sectoral approach in order to ensure efficiency and equity in lifelong learning. In addition to welcoming the Communication from the Commission, the Council declared that quality was essential as a common objective for all forms of education and training. This concerned not only learning through education or educational activities, but also the capacity of education and training systems to meet individual, social and economic needs, strengthen equity and improve well-being.
The Member States were asked to pay more attention to optimising the resources of the education and training systems by incorporating the principles of efficiency and equity and setting effective reform and investment targets by concentrating on pre-primary education, targeted early intervention programmes and education and training systems which can be sources of equity, guaranteeing access for all to education. The Council also focused on the need for qualified staff with access to in-service training. Furthermore, sufficient financing is needed for education and training, whether public or private, and for adult education and continuing vocational education and training. The world of work must also be more involved in education and training: businesses must be involved in the research and development aspect, and employers need to have active partnerships in order to develop the skills required by the economy. In order to guarantee quality, equity and efficiency throughout the education and training system, it is necessary to encourage evaluation and monitoring procedures, studies and the supply of transparent information. This would make it possible to assess the results of reforms, the adjustments and needs which could result from them and the development of teaching and learning methods and practices. The Commission and the Member States are therefore asked to cooperate with research centres and take account of these results in the context of Community programmes, in particular the objectives of the Education and Training 2010 programme.

 

Improving the economic situation in the fishing industry

Improving the economic situation in the fishing industry

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Improving the economic situation in the fishing industry

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Competition > Rules applicable to specific sectors > Competition in agriculture and fisheries

Improving the economic situation in the fishing industry

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 9March 2006 on improving the economic situation in the fishing industry [COM(2006) 103 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

In the last few years, the economic situation of many fishing businesses has deteriorated as a result of:

Stagnating or even falling market prices, partly owing to an increase in imports and the development of aquaculture, but primarily because of the concentration of sales in big distribution chains and greater competition between fish and other food products.

Lower fishing yields, because the reduction in fishing capacity has not kept pace with the reduction in fishing quotas for the main demersal and benthic species since the mid 1990s. Reducing vessel tonnage and engine power has failed to stabilise the situation, as this reduction has been offset by the steady increase in the efficiency of fishing vessels, resulting in widespread overfishing. According to an assessment carried out by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), for most of the stocks assessed, overfishing is running at two to five times the level that would generate the maximum sustainable yield. *

An increase in fuel prices between 2003 and 2005, which particularly affected vessels with towed gear. Fuel costs can account for as much as 36 % of the value of landings and can mean operating at a loss. Consequently, crew members who are paid a share of the income generated by the catch have also suffered a loss of income.

At the moment, businesses targeting demersal species and using towed gear are hardest hit.

In the short term, Member States could help fishing businesses facing difficulties by granting aid in accordance with the Guidelines on State aid for rescuing and restructuring firms in difficulty.

Rescue aid

Rescue aid is intended solely to keep an ailing business financially afloat for long enough to give it time to look into the possibility of restructuring. It must last no longer than six months, and takes the form of a loan or guarantee, which may be repaid using the support subsequently received in the form of restructuring aid.

Restructuring aid

The Guidelines for the examination of State aid to fisheries and aquaculture allow State aid for modifying, modernising and equipping fishing vessels, subject to the same conditions that apply to Community aid granted under the FIFG.

Other types of aid for modernising and equipping fishing vessels may be allowed in accordance with the Community Guidelines on State aid to firms in difficulty. However, Member States would have to obtain the Commission’s approval for this. Aid should be limited to the minimum necessary, and restructuring must be based on realistic economic assumptions, which form the starting point for a restructuring plan. Furthermore, profitability must be ensured by reducing costs without increasing current overall fishing effort or capacity. The Commission will assess aid for the following investments in fishing vessels on the basis of the extent to which they contribute towards re-establishing the viability of the business concerned:

  • Changing fishing gear for the first time, resulting in a switch to a less fuel-intensive gear;
  • Purchasing equipment to improve fuel efficiency;
  • Replacing the engine with a new engine, which, depending on the size of the vessel and the fishing method, must be either of equal power or less powerful. For trawlers of more than 24 m in overall length, this must be accompanied by a switch to a new, less fuel-intensive fishing method. The Commission will verify the power of new engines of more than 130 kW on the basis of the “NOx certificate”. Any reduction in engine power funded by public aid will be deducted from the national fleet capacity ceilings. If a business operates several vessels, the Commission may agree to apply the reduction in engine power to that business as a whole. Similarly, where national schemes allow for the implementation of a restructuring plan put forward by a group of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the Commission may decide to apply the reduction to the group as a whole.

During the time needed to implement these investments on board fishing vessels, State aid for temporary cessation of activities is also allowed. Direct aid to subsidise fuel costs would constitute operating aid, which is incompatible with the Treaty. The fishing sector could, however, set up a contingency fund, but for this fund to be approved by the Commission, guarantees would have to be provided that all public aid would be reimbursed.

Member States should notify the Commission of planned rescue and restructuring aid schemes within two years of the publication of the Communication. The Commission will examine them as soon as possible on the basis of the relevant provisions of the applicable Structural Funds. Within two years of the Commission’s approval of a scheme, Member States should issue their administrative decisions.

In the long term, further action is needed to ensure the recovery of fish stocks and build a positive future for the fishing industry.

Improving fisheries management

Fisheries management could be further improved by:

  • Moving towards maximum sustainable yields (MSY). MSYs were adopted by the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development as a way of achieving stable management of fish stocks by 2015. Furthermore, they would bring economic benefits in terms of predictability of supply and revenue per unit of effort. Since the 2002 reform of the common fisheries policy (CFP), one of its aims has been the recovery of threatened stocks, which is a prerequisite for managing all of the major fisheries at MSY levels (see the Communication on the implementation of MSYs).
  • Ensuring economic management of fisheries. The Commission will publish a Communication on the bearing that the methods used by Member States to allocate fishing rights have on the economic situation of the fleet.
  • Improving governance of the CFP. The 2002 reform of the CFP provided for setting up Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) in order to achieve better compliance with the rules by increasing stakeholders’ involvement in fisheries management. So far, three RACs have been set up and a fourth is in the process of being set up. In 2007, the Commission will look at how to improve the functioning of the RACs.
  • Matching fishing effort to available resources. Overcapacity contributes to overfishing and reduces profitability, which is why it is necessary to decommission some vessels. A number of Member States have already set up decommissioning schemes. Both national and Community aid may be granted for decommissioning fishing vessels or reassigning them to other activities. Member States and the Community should also use the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) for this purpose.

Better compliance with fisheries management rules

In order to ensure fair competition, conservation of resources and the quality of the scientific advice on which the CFP is based, it is important that all fishermen comply with the rules. Steps should be taken to:

  • Strengthen controls. The new Fisheries Control Agency will verify that Member States are implementing fishing Regulations across the European Union (EU).
  • Step up the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which some operators have adopted as a commercial strategy. The Commission will ensure that its action plan is implemented in order to deprive these operators of their gains from IUU fishing.

Improving the operation of the market

In order to give fishermen more added value, the Commission will look at new tools to improve the marketing of fish and fish products. It will also ask the Advisory Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture to draw up a code of conduct for trade within the EU. Eco-labelling schemes could also promote sustainable fishing. The Commission’s recent Communication on this subject should encourage fruitful debate. Member States should use the EFF to improve the quality, added value and marketing of fish products.

Research into sustainable fishing

The Commission will ensure that the annual programmes adopted to implement the Seventh Framework Programme support:

  • Optimising, validating and demonstrating new concepts and new technologies which will enable energy savings to be made.
  • Designing more fuel-efficient fishing gear.
  • Generating renewable energy.
  • Developing and demonstrating new types of biofuels.

Funding

The EFF is available to Member States within the framework of their rescue and restructuring schemes, as well as to help finance fleet adjustment measures and support the necessary social changes in the affected fishing communities. Member States should distribute the financial resources among the different EFF funding priorities, while ensuring that the necessary funds are allocated to fleet adjustment measures in view of the gravity of the economic situation.

Background

Rising fuel prices, coupled with declining fish stocks, have reduced the profitability of the fleet. The Communication identifies the main factors contributing to the economic crisis in the sector, and suggests both short-term and long-term responses to improve the economic situation for fishing businesses by promoting measures designed to restore the balance between fishing capacity and fishing opportunities.

Key terms used in the act
  • Maximum sustainable yield: the maximum catch rate that will ensure sustainable fishing.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 4 July 2006 – Implementing sustainability in EU fisheries through maximum sustainable yield [COM(2006) 360 final – not published in the Official Journal].