The European Commission welcomes today's adoption of the new EU programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) by the EU's Council of Ministers.
EaSI will make €920 million available for the 2014-2020 period. It will support innovative social policies and promote labour mobility, as well as facilitate access to microcredits and encourage social entrepreneurship. The European Parliament formally adopted the new EaSI Regulation on 21 November 2013, so the programme is now ready to be launched on 1 January 2014.
EaSI integrates and extends the coverage of three existing financial instruments: Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (Progress), the European network of Public Employment Services EURES and the European Progress Microfinance Facility.
The three components of EaSI will receive the following allocations.
Progress (Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity)
Around €550 million (61% of the total budget) will support activities with a strong Europe-wide dimension such as comparable analysis, mutual learning and exchanges of practices in the field of employment and social policies.
Progress helps Member States to design and implement policy reforms needed to achieve the Europe 2020 goals.
It also helps Member States to implement EU legislation in the field of employment, social policy and working conditions. Implementation will involve national, regional and local authorities as well as social partners and civil society organisations.
A specific budget of around €100 million will be devoted to test new solutions for employment and social policies in critical areas such as youth employment or inclusion. The most successful can be implemented with the support of the European Social Fund (ESF).
Around €160 million (18% of the budget) will be dedicated to the EURES network that provides information and advice to job seekers wishing to work in another EU country. EaSI will finance core activities at EU level, while the national activities can receive funding from the ESF.
The EURES portal will be modernised and targeted schemes such as the successful pilot project Your First EURES Job will be further developed.
Labour mobility can help to address current imbalances in the European labour markets, in particular labour and skills shortages that coexist with high levels of unemployment. This is why the Commission will adopt new reforms of EURES on 16th December, aimed at further improving its efficiency.
Around €200 million (21% or the budget) will extend the support given to microcredit providers and institutions in order to make more loans available, and will help to develop the social investment market and access to financing for social enterprises.
According to the last annual report on Progress Microfinance, more than 6000 entrepreneurs have already benefitted from loans worth a total of almost €50 million since the facility was launched in 2010.