New EUROCITIES report on lessons learned from cities experiences with the European Social Fund in 2014-2017

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EUROCITIES carried out a survey to examine the experiences of cities with ESF during the first half of the funding period 2014-2020. We analysed the ESF practices of 32 cities from 13 EU member states. The survey collected evidence on the implementation of ESF in cities between 2014-2017 directly from city authorities. The responses fed into a comparative analysis to identify trends across cities and map good practices.

The technical report presents the preliminary findings from cities’ experiences with ESF in 2014-2017. It outlines: 

  • achievements and added value of city-led interventions 
  • trends in how cities are involved in the preparation of ESF programmes 
  • obstacles and challenges cities face in accessing and using ESF 
  • issues to be considered for further improving ESF in the future 
  • good practices of how cities use ESF and their success factors

The key findings were:

  • ESF has brought tangible results in cities: better access to jobs, schools, training, housing and social care for vulnerable groups, leading to improved social cohesion.
  • an increasing number of cities have expanded responsibilities to manage local or regional ESF allocations for their metropolitan area. This local programming approach to ESF has been tested in several countries and proved successful.
  • ESF can serve as a catalyst for social innovation at local level. When cities have the chance to use ESF to pilot social innovations, they mainstream the good practices in regular service provision to improve public services. ESF post 2020 could give cities more room to pilot social innovations in urban areas to achieve its full potential.
  • the biggest obstacle for cities to access and use ESF funding is the complexity of rules and procedures generating a high administrative burden and the mismatch between the ESF programme priorities and their locally-identified needs. Local needs were better met when cities were directly involved in defining the programme priorities.
  • better support for cities post 2020 is needed to ensure ESF is used where it is most needed and generates more impact on people’s lives.

The technical report proposes several issues for consideration for ESF post 2020: 

  • supporting all cities affected by profound social challenges
  • involving cities in defining ESF priorities
  • ensuring ESF can better address the social challenges in cities
  • making ESF programmes more flexible in adapting to new challenges
  • making ESF a catalyst for social innovation at local level
  • simplifying the rules and procedures governing the ESF
  • making it easier to combine ESF with other EU funds

Read the full report attached in English and German.

   EUROCITIES_report_on_ESF_and_cities_FINAL_ENdownload/preview this file
    EUROCITIES_report_on_ESF_and_cities_FINAL_DEdownload/preview this file

EUROCITIES staff contact

Bianca Faragau-Tavares