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The main purpose of transnational cooperation (TNC) under the European Social Fund (ESF) is to contribute to the quality and effectiveness of employment and social policies and delivering reforms, essentially by learning from experience and good practice in other countries.

During the 2000-2006 programming period the EQUAL Community Initiative, was the main driver for the delivery of transnational and interregional cooperation under the ESF. For the 2007-2013 programming period the Regulation established only the purpose and broader objectives of TNC (which was mandatory) and each Member State and region could choose the most suitable implementing arrangements. The Commission organised complementary support for promoting exchanges of experience, thematic networking and mutual learning through, in particular, the Learning Networks of the ESF Managing Authorities.

Experience from these previous programming periods has confirmed that, if TNC is well planned and executed, it underpins national reform agendas by contributing to innovation, playing an important part in identifying good practice, effective policy strategies and delivery systems, and disseminating and transferring working examples in a cost- and time-effective manner.

Experience has also shown that TNC is only effective if clear and simple provisions for some key building blocks have been made, such as:

  • focussing support on a limited number of policy fields or issues where Member States expect that learning from others that have chosen the same or similar issues or fields can contribute to an improvement of their national reform efforts,
  • early involvement of all relevant stakeholders and potential users facilitates capitalisation of the results of transnational cooperation.

On the basis of the above, for the new programming period 2014-2020, Article 10 of the ESF Regulation 1304/2013 provides that Member States shall implement TNC in three different ways:

  • on the basis of common themes proposed by the Commission and endorsed by the ESF Committee, whereby MS benefit from an EU-level platform established and operated by the Commission (common framework)
  • without central coordination (flexible approach)
  • through a combined approach of the above

Lithuania is planning to choose to implement TNC using the common framework and the flexible approach.

The Commission has to establish a common framework which should encompass the following elements:

  • The identification of common themes, aligned to the EUROPE 2020 thematic objectives and investment priorities. They will form the backbone of TNC around which the other elements of the common framework are developed. They will be proposed by the Commission in consultation with the Member States and will be endorsed by the ESF Committee in order to focus the choice in the selected priority fields. Some flexibility should allow the introduction of new themes throughout the implementation period, to reflect changing needs.
  • The launch of Coordinated Calls (two cycles for the whole programming period) to create synergies and effective partnerships among the Members States around the common themes.
  • The development of tools which will consist of:

an EU-level partner-search database which will form the basis for developing partnerships,

a central EU-level website that should also cater for the needs of MSs opting for  the flexible approach.

Lithuania is interested to launch TNC call in these themes:

  • Active labour market policy
  • Youth employment (more specifically in “Mobility measures”, “Apprenticeships”, “Traineeships”)
  • Learning and skills
  • Social economy (more specifically in “Start-up support”)