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1.  Background

Acting on a  proposal from Mr  Flynn, Commissioner  responsible for  Social
Affairs and  Employment, the  Commission has  just given  its approval,  in
principle, to  a series of  programming documents relating  to Objective 4.
Formal adoption  will  take place  once the  ESF  Committee has  given  its
opinion.

This new  Objective, introduced following  revision of the Structural  Fund
Regulations,  will  make  an important  contribution  towards  helping  the
workforce   adapt  to   industrial   change   and  towards   boosting   the
competitiveness of businesses.

The programming documents approved in principle  cover eight Member States.
These  documents take  the  form of  Single  Programming Documents  for all
Member  States except  Belgium,  which has  opted  for a  Community Support
Framework.

At the  same time the  Commission has adopted  a communication representing
an interim report on this first phase of implementation of Objective 4.

2.  The main priorities of Objective 4

Objective  4 is designed to "facilitate the adaptation of workers of either
sex to industrial  change and to changes in production systems". To achieve
this, the following guidelines have been adopted:

Anticipation, aiming to identify  trends and anticipate the development  of
employment, trades, skills and qualifications as a preliminary to  concrete
training  measures,  should  provide  firms   with  improved  capacity  for
managing the process of change in production systems.

The  horizontal  approach,  which  is  specifically  referred  to   in  the
Regulations, derives  from the  fact  that industrial  change and  changing
production systems affect all sectors and all workers.  At any one time, of
course,  there are  sectors which  are in  the  forefront of  such changes.
Whereas  all  sectors  of  the   economy  are  confronted  with   the  same
competitive  environments,   each  one   has  to   contend  with   specific
developments.  The rates at which  structural changes  affect the different
sectors  and economic activities  are therefore  not the same,  and vary in
time.

The   multisectoral    horizontal   approach   combines   positively   with
concentration,  which comprises  four aspects:  concentration  in terms  of
undertakings, beneficiaries, type of action and subject.

                                        ____________________

               1 COM(94) 510

3.  Objective 4  and  the  White  Papers  on  Growth,  Competitiveness  and
    Employment and European Social Policy

In giving priority  to investment  in human  capital, operations  supported
under Objective  4 are fully in  line with the  perspectives and priorities
set  out in  the  White Paper  on  Growth, Competitiveness  and Employment.
Among the  priority action  areas identified  by the Member  States in  the
follow-up to  the  White  Paper,  special  mention  is  made  of  improving
education and training systems, reorganising  working patterns in companies
and improving flexibility in firms  and on the labour market,  reflecting a
convergence between the  measures envisaged in the Objective  4 programming
operation and the follow-up to the White Paper in the Member States.

At European  level, social  policy has  an essential  role to  play in  the
process of  change. The  White  Paper on  European Social  Policy -  A  Way
Forward for  the Union seeks  to set out the  main approaches to  action in
this area at European Union level  in the years to come: while  considering
social policy to  be broader than just  employment policy, one of  the main
priorities of this  White Paper is the  creation of jobs and  investment in
high-standard labour.

There is positive  interaction between operations financed  under Objective
4  and  LEONARDO,  the   European  Community's  action  programme   on  the
implementation  of a vocational training policy,  and the Community's ADAPT
initiative.

4.  The salient features of the programming documents

The measures  envisaged with  a view  to implementing Objective  4 are  set
against  four  priorities  which  are common  to  the  various  programming
documents:

-   anticipation  of  labour  market  trends  and vocational  qualification
    requirements;
-   vocational training and retraining, guidance and counselling;
-   improvement and development of appropriate training systems
-   technical assistance  or horizontal measures  relating to the  CSF as a
    whole.

Within  this   common  framework  of  priorities   the  Member  States,  in
partnership with  the Commission,  have designed  a series  of measures  to
implement Objective  4. These  measures reflect the  general principles  of
Objective 4 and the specific circumstances in each Member State.

Anticipation (between 10 and 33% of the total)

This is a question  of anticipating labour market trends and needs in terms
of   skills  and  qualifications.  The  aim  is  to  prepare  the  way  for
counselling, guidance and  worker training measures, as well as back-up and
adaptation  measures relating  to training  structures  at the  appropriate
level.

Training (between 34 and 52% of the total)

The training priority  is concerned with  the development  of the  training
effort and  with guidance  and counselling,  the aim being  to ensure  that
labour  market  exclusion is  not  the  lot of  the  workforce affected  by
industrial change and changes in organisation systems.

These measures are  intended to stabilise  employment by  making it  easier
for workers to  change jobs within undertakings and, where redundancies are
unavoidable,  by  providing workers  with qualifications  so as  to improve
their employability in other undertakings and sectors.

Improvement of training systems  and structures (between 5  and 30% of  the
total)

The improvement of training systems  and structures is intended  to achieve
a  balance between  the training  courses on  offer  and the  needs of  the
persons concerned.

Technical assistance (between 5 and 17% of the total)

Technical  assistance is  particularly  important  in  view  of  the  novel
character of Objective 4.

5.  Financial aspects

The sums available for  Objective 4 outside the Objective 1 regions for the
Member States concerned were arrived at by a two-stage procedure:

-   the  overall budget  available for  the  CSFs for  Objectives  3 and  4
    outside  the  Objective 1  regions was  fixed by  the Commission  on 21
    November 1993  at  ECU  13.948  million  for  the  period  1994-99  (at
    constant 1994 prices);

-   in the programming process  for Objectives 3 and  4, each Member  State
    divided up  its financial allocation  between these  Objectives, taking
    account  of the  considerations mentioned  in the  joint declaration by
    the  Council   and  the  Commission  on  Article  1  of  the  Framework
    Regulation. Over  the period 1994-99 Objective 4 (outside the Objective
    1 regions) accounts  for an average of  almost 19% of the  total budget
    for Objectives  3 and 4,  except in the  United Kingdom, which  has not
    yet submitted a plan for Objective 4.

An  appropriate  balance  between national  and  regional  public  funding,
private funding and Community support  has been achieved. The  ratio, which
varies  with  the  Member State  and  is adjusted  in  accordance  with the
priority and the  size of the  enterprises concerned,  is around  one-third
national  and regional public funding,  one-third private  funding and one-
third Community support.

6.  Effective partnership

-   The "bottom-up"  approach will  be developed  in a  dynamic manner  and
    will be  reflected above all  in concrete procedures  for designing and
    selecting projects.

-   Consultation of the enlarged  partnership has taken place  in principle
    in conjunction  with the preparation of national plans for Objective 4.
    Such  consultations must  be  continued  and developed  throughout  the
    implementation  period, taking  account of  the  specific features  and
    institutional practices  of the  Member States,  in  such a  way as  to
    ensure a broad consensus among all those involved in operations.

In this context, the process of effective joint  contribution by the social
partners should  be improved  and developed.  For its  part the  Commission
will  therefore  examine,  together  with  the  social partners,  the  most
suitable  procedures to be  adopted at European  level in  order to achieve
this. More  specifically, meetings and  seminars will be  organised at both
national  and European levels in order to take  a more detailed look at the
relevant aspects  of implementation  of Objective 4.  Finally, a conference
will be organised at European Union level in 1995.

*  *  *  *  *

Welcoming the adoption  of the  various programming  documents relating  to
Objective 4, Mr Padraig Flynn declared that:

"Adoption  of  these  documents  is  particularly   important  in  that  it
represents the first stage of  implementation of the new Objective 4, which
has a  dual aim: to help  workers adapt to  industrial change, and  thus to
contribute  towards   boosting  the   competitiveness  of   businesses.  In
implementing the  various documents,  it will  be necessary to  consolidate
the anticipation aspect, which means  paying more attention to  the bottom-
up approach and  ensuring effective  contributions by the  social partners,
at both national and European levels."

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