Community Initiativesi are specific financial instruments of the European Union’s Structural Policy which were designed to find common solutions to specific problems affecting the whole of the E.U. The Community Initiatives are Co-financed by the E.U. Structural Fundsi and provide added value and complementarity to mainstream regional Programmes such as Objectives 2 and 3.
Community Initiatives share three characteristics:
- They address issues of community relevance affecting the majority of Member States aiming to promote transnationali, cross-border and interregional co-operation
- They play an experimental role as they focus on areas where new solutions are needed
- They experimentation they encourage involves exchanges of experience, transfers of know-how, co-operation and the creation of networks
For the period 2000 to 2006, there are four Community Initiative Programmes:
Equal promotes new ways to combat discrimination and inequality in the job market. The initiative works by bringing together key players in a geographical area or sector to form a Development Partnership (DP) – including public administrations, non-governmental organisations, social partners and private business (notably SMEs). An important aspect is co-operation with others dealing with the same themes across the EU. The results will be used to influence future policy and practice.
Interreg lll (2000-06) aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion by stimulating cross-border, transnational and inter-regional co-operation. There is a special emphasis on integrating remote regions and those sharing borders with the countries seeking membership of the Union.
Leader+ promotes rural development through the initiatives of local action groups. It provides funds firstly to identify development needs within rural communities, and then to develop and test small-scale, pilot projects to meet these needs in a sustainable way.
Urban ll is the ERDFi funded Community Initiative to encourage the sustainable economic and social regeneration of troubled towns, cities and suburbs for the period 2000-06.
There are currently four Community Action Programmes covering anti-discrimination, gender equality, the fight against social exclusion and employment incentive measures which provide financial support to the EU's Social Policy Agenda. The Social Policy Agenda is Europe's roadmap for social and employment policy until 2010 and is an important element of the EU's new Growth and Jobs strategy. These programmes will run until the end of 2006.
As part of the discussions on the new financial perspectives for the period 2007-2013, the Commission proposed (in 2004) to bring these four Action Programmes together to form PROGRESS. This single programme will complement the European Social Fund as well as the financial support provided for social dialogue, free movement of workers and social studies.
The aim of regrouping the four action programmes is to simplify the way the Commission spends its money and to increase the visibility, clarity and coherence of the different policy areas covered by the programmes. The new standardised approach and harmonised implementing provisions of PROGRESS will also make it easier for beneficiaries to apply for funding.
The new PROGRESS programme is due to replace, for the period 2007-2013, the existing Community initiatives and budget lines in the fields of employment, social inclusion and protection, working conditions, gender equality and anti-discrimination.
The decision-making procedure is now well under way and the final adoption of the PROGRESS programme should take place in October 2006. The PROGRESS Programme (2007-2013) provides the possibility of co-funding the operating costs of European-level networks. In order to ensure smooth transition between the current programmes and the PROGRESS programme, the Commission will publish, by the end of September 2006, an open Framework Call for Proposals addressed to organisations active in combating discrimination (Action 1), promoting gender equality (Action 2) and promoting integration of disabled people in society (Action 3).
These organisations and actions are outlined in more detail below:
- Action 1: Organisations which have as primary objectives and activities the representation and defence of the rights and interests of the people potentially exposed to discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, disability, age and sexual orientation at Community level.
- Action 2: Organisations which have as primary objectives and activities the representation and defence of the rights and interests of the people potentially exposed to gender inequality at Community level.
- Action 3: Organisations which have as primary objectives and activities to represent the interests of disabled people at Community level.
The Framework Call for Proposals will support selected organisations for the period between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2007. Details of the Call for proposals, including application packages and relevant contact details for information can be found at the Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities section of the European Commision website, listed below.
European Commision website
Stop Press - New Devlopments
Replacement for Community Initiatives Announced
The programme which will replace the exisitng Community Initiatives has been announced. The PROGRESS programme is due to replace, for the period 2007-2013, existing Community programmes and budget lines in the fields of employment, social inclusion and protection, working conditions, gender equality and anti-discrimination.
Please be aware that although the European Commission published this information on 6 December 2006 some of the deadlines in some of the tenders have passed. It is advised that you read the content of the Progress website and keep checking back for updates as the new programme timetable unfolds.