Thursday, February 24, 2005
Getting people into work: Commission to reveal results from 5.5bn innovation programme
The results of over 1,300 innovation partnerships will be unveiled at the 'Free movement of good ideas' conference in Warsaw tomorrow. The results were achieved under the EU's €5.5bn EQUAL programme, which aims to find new ways of getting people into work by challenging existing obstacles. The European Commission, which co-financed the projects, will be presenting an analysis of the new successful innovations and lessons learned.
The innovations cover areas across the EU ranging from helping ethnic minorities set up their own businesses in France, to rehabilitating prisoners into the workforce in Austria, to improving role sharing between men and women in the home in the Netherlands.
The EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimír Špidla, emphasised innovation's central role in the EU's development. 'Renewing Europe's innovative capacity is essential. And the best way to do this is through partnerships, at every level,' he said. 'EQUAL is highly original, as it constitutes a laboratory of ideas supporting the European employment strategy and social inclusion.'
As well as the Commissioner, the conference will include other many high level participants, including Poland's deputy Prime Minister and Hungary's Minister for Employment. The participants list also includes members of the national parliaments, the European Parliament, non-governmental organisations, social partners and other stakeholders.
The EQUAL programme involves the European Union and Member State governments co-financing innovation projects. The EU contributes approximately €3.2bn, with €2.2bn provided by public authorities. The Warsaw conference results are drawn from first round projects, which started in 2001. Results from the 2,000 partnerships from all 25 EU Member States involved in the second round, which began in 2004, will follow from 2007.
EQUAL has nine thematic fields, namely:
- access and return to the labour market;
- combating racism;
- business creation;
- social economy;
- lifelong learning;
- adaptation to change;
- reconciling family and working life;
- reducing gender gaps and;
- integration of asylum seekers.
Source the Equal conference
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