Looking for the successor of the Progress programme

The European Commission has made available the results of the public consultation on a possible successor instrument to the EU programme for employment and social solidarity (Progress 2007-2013). The results reveal strong support for the continuation of Progress activities. This feed into a legislative proposal for a successor instrument which will be presented by the Commission in October 2011.

The results of the consultation ran by the European Commission between 4 April and 27 May 2011 on a possible successor instrument for Progress Programme received a total of 171 responses from a variety of respondents including public authorities, social partners and civil society.

Respondents identify possibilities for a future EU financial instrument to assist the effective application of EU law, to enable effective partnerships and to support a shared understanding and ownership of EU objectives. Also, there is particular emphasis on the objective of effective application of EU legislation, which several respondents believe should be closely monitored on the member state level, for instance by working with national bodies.

In addition, many respondents express their support for a ‘mainstreaming’ approach for gender equality objectives as well as for inclusion or anti-discrimination more generally. Some respondents state that supporting innovation should not take away the focus from existing initiatives. Also, there are suggestions for transnational experimentation and pilot projects to receive funding. On the other hand, respondents believe a future financial instrument can help increase the participation of stakeholders in policy making, with many singling out the involvement of civil society organisations. The benefits of networking and partnerships to enable mutual learning across the EU are pointed out by several respondents.

Among the suggestions there are many calls for a clear dissemination strategy with mechanisms for systematically sharing information with different target audiences. Making the information accessible for all audiences is another priority for many, with some specifying that this should include people with disabilities. With regard to the budget, the overall tendency among respondents for a future EU financial instrument for employment and social affairs is to maintain or increase it, with those in favour of raising the budget highlighting the importance of the programme’s objectives. A few respondents make remarks about the clarity and efficiency of the instrument in relation to the allocation of the budget. Moreover, there are many comments about the application process for (operational) grants as well as the criteria for awarding them.