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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 28 June 2013

Employment and social inclusion: Commission, welcomes agreement on new programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI)

The European Commission welcomes the political agreement reached with the European Parliament and the Council on the EU programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) with a proposed budget of €815 million for the 2014-20 period.

EaSI integrates and extends the coverage of three existing programmes: Progress (Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity), EURES (European Employment Services) and the European Progress Microfinance Facility, which will be allocated respectively 61%, 18% and 21% of the budget. EaSI will enable the Commission to increase policy coherence and impact of its instruments, which have common objectives, thus contributing to the Europe 2020 Strategy for Jobs and Growth.

László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion commented "With EaSI the Commission will have a tool to directly support employment and social policies across the EU and thus contribute to the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy. I welcome the fact that agreement was reached in time for us to prepare for a roll out of the programme as of January 2014."

EaSI will support Member States efforts in the design and implementation of employment and social reforms at European, national as well as regional and local levels by means of policy coordination, the identification, analysis and sharing of best practices. It will notably benefit national, regional and local authorities as well as social partners and civil society organisations.

Concrete projects and activities will help to test reforms on the ground before the possible scaling up of the most successful, including via the ESF. In this context, EaSI will devote around €100 million to launch such experiments in the most critical policy areas such as youth employment or inclusion of disadvantaged groups.

By integrating EURES within EaSI, the Commission will pursue the successful Your First EURES Job and launch dedicated mobility schemes to facilitate job search and promote job matching at EU level. Labour mobility can be a powerful adjustment mechanism to address the imbalances European labour markets are facing – in particular labour and skills shortages co-existing with high unemployment.

Finally, the microfinance instrument and the new financial instrument for social enterprise support will offer a platform for experimentation and can be scaled up by Member States, including with support from the ESF.

Together with the ESF, the Fund for the European Aid for the most Deprived and the European Globalisation adjustment Fund, EaSI forms the fourth pillar of the EU Initiative for Employment and Social Inclusion 2014-2020.

The political agreement will follow the ordinary procedure and should be endorsed by the European Parliament and Council before the end of 2013 to allow the launching of EaSI in January 2014.

Background

Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity ('Progress')

'Progress' supports and disseminates comparative analytical information in the field of employment, facilitates information sharing and dialogue, provides policy makers and implementers with financial support, to test social and labour market policy reforms. It also supports the implementation of EU legislation in the field of employment, social policy and working conditions.

For the period 2014-2020, the 'Progress' element of EaSI will continue its current activities (analysis, mutual learning and grants) and will have a specific budget for social innovation and social policy experimentation, i.e. testing of innovative policies on a small scale, with the aim that the most successful ones can be up-scaled, including with ESF support.

The total proposed budget for 'Progress' is around €500 million for the period 2014-2020.

What is new for EURES?

EURES provides information and advice to job seekers wishing to work in another EU country. In June 2013, the EURES portal hosted around 1 350 000 job vacancies, over 1 100 000 CVs and around 31 000 registered employers. During the last 12 months 21 million different visitors used its services. Around 100 000 jobseekers per year get a job or a job offer via the EURES Portal.

With the new proposal, the overall EURES system will be strengthened beyond 2013:

  1. the EURES core activities at cross-border level will be financed under the EaSI Programme, while the national EURES activities can be financed under the European Social Fund in order to support workers' mobility and help companies recruit abroad.

  2. at EU level, the EURES Portal will offer modernised information and skills-matching tools for jobseekers and employers. EURES will be used to create and develop new targeted mobility schemes. These will fill bottleneck and niche vacancies and will help specific groups of workers and countries which will become recipients of mobile workers. It will notably allow for the development of 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 per year, with around one third of the budget for modernising the EURES Portal and one third for the development of the targeted mobility schemes.

What is new for the Microfinance facility and Social Entrepreneurship?

The current European Progress Microfinance Facility was launched in 2010 to help people who face difficulties in securing a traditional bank loan, get better access to microcredit and become self-employed or set up their own business. It finances loans of less than €25,000 for unemployed people, people at a risk of losing their jobs or people from disadvantaged groups, for instance young or older people or migrants. The Microfinance facility does not provide direct financing to micro-entrepreneurs or individuals, but it works through microcredit providers at national, regional or local level. So far, transactions have been signed with 26 microcredit providers, in 15 Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and the UK.

The new programme will:

  1. extend the support given to microcredit providers under the current European Progress Microfinance Facility (launched in 2010);

  2. provide funding for capacity-building of microfinance institutions. For instance, a microfinance institution might need an IT system to deal with the growing demand or have to hire additional loan officers to better meet the needs of the target groups. This could be financially supported under the new programme.

  3. support the development of the social investment market and facilitate access to finance for social enterprises, i.e. businesses whose primary purpose is social, rather than to maximise profit distribution to private owners or shareholders.

The total proposed budget for the microfinance and social entrepreneurship axis is around €171.15 million for the period 2014-2020. Access to microfinance would receive €77.75 million, that could result in €400 to 450 million of microloans. Institutional capacity building would receive almost €8 million and €85 million would be dedicated to support social entrepreneurship.


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