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European Commission launches new EQUAL initiative


Brussels, 13/10/1999 (Agence Europe) -

At the initiative of Anna Diamantopoulou, the European Commission launched on Wednesday the new Community EQUAL initiative, which has the objective of promoting new practices to fight labour market discrimination and inequalities of all kinds.

The Commission approved the guideline proposals for the period 2000-2006 setting out the objectives, scope and implementing arrangements of EQUAL. Financed out of the European Social Fund, the initiative has a budget of 2,847 million euros for this period.

The Commission's adoption of this project allows for consultation of the European Social Fund Committee and debate in the European Parliament and other Community institutions, with a view to final adoption by the Commission early in 2000. The first call for projects could be announced by the end of 2000.

EQUAL is a component of the European employment strategy and clearly gives priority, through cross-cutting themes, to an active and preventive approach to equal opportunities for all. With its transnational dimension and the importance attached to networking, EQUAL will constitute a laboratory for the promotion of a labour market open to all and, to this end, will experiment with new implementing procedures, single out good practices and ensure sound dissemination of results which have been able to be built on.

EQUAL is in keeping with the Employment (equality for women in employment, integration of the disadvantaged and disabled in the labour market and integration of unqualified young people in the labour market) and Adapt (adaptation of workers to industrial change and the information society) initiatives, but it takes a new, more integrated and multifaceted approach to factors that lead to inequality.

EQUAL is built on "development partnerships" based on location or sector and working on themes structured around the four pillars of the European employment strategy. Anchored firmly in the real world, these partnerships, which bring together partners from state and private bodies and associations, will have to act as genuine vehicles for this joint employment dynamic by the Member States by:

- increasing locally the profile of the annual guidelines;
- giving thought to the activities and exchanges strengthened at transnational level;
- systematically looking for ways to build on the good practices detected;
- establishing thematic networks at national and transnational level;
- being explicitly mindful of impact and mainstreaming in the employment policies of Member States and in the joint strategy.

As far as EQUAL's financing is concerned, the Commission has set out an indicative breakdown of commitment appropriations for the Member States (in millions of euros, 1999 prices) as follows: Belgium 70 mn euros, Denmark 28, Germany 484, Greece 98, Spain 485, France 301, Ireland 32, Italy 371, Luxembourg 4, Netherlands 196, Austria 96, Portugal 107, Finland 68, Sweden 81 and United Kingdom 376.


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