Future European Social Fund - Better supporting capacity building of social partner organisations
Introduction and project aims
The aim of this project on ‘The European Social Fund: Supporting Social Dialogue at National, Regional and Local Level’ was for the European cross-industry social partners to take stock of the implementation of the Partnership Principle in the governance of the European Social Fund (ESF) and the use of ESF funding for social partner capacity building. In doing so, it also assessed the capacity building needs of social partners at the national level and the extent to which these can - and have been - met using ESF resources.
Capacity building among social partners is of increasing relevance in the context of the enhanced importance attached to their closer involvement in EU policy-making and the implementation of European policy, legislation, and agreements at national level. This has been emphasised in a quadripartite statement on a ‘New Start for Social Dialogue’1 which emphasised the role of the social partners in policy and law-making at European level and in the European semester process. This role is again re-stated in the European Pillar of Social Rights proclaimed at the European Council in Gothenburg on 17 November2.
Part of the wider ESIF funding framework, the ESF provides over €120 billion in European and national matched funding resources for employment, human resource development and capacity building initiatives between 2014–2020. However, its implementation is slow in most countries, making it more difficult to establish the extent to which resources have been allocated, and where this is the case, whether and how funding opportunities have been used to support social partner capacity building.
Supported by a joint request by the European cross-industry social partners, the ESIF and ESF regulations, as well as a European Code of Conduct on Partnership in the Framework of ESIF3 require the implementation of the funds based on a Partnership Principle with strong involvement of the social partners.
Research carried out for this project aimed to gather relevant information by assessing relevant literature and conducting two surveys: one addressing the members of BusinessEurope, CEEP, ETUC and UEAPME, and one gathering the views of social partners members on ESF Operational Programme (OP) Monitoring Committees (MCs). This was further enhanced with an interactive information exchange at two round tables involving social partner representatives from 20 countries and a closing conference where the findings of the project were presented.