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Employment - 23.03.2004
CEMR seminar on EQUAL : When municipalities exchange experience and best practice
EQUAL is a useful tool but there remain management and communication problems. This is one of the conclusions of the CEMR seminar that took place in Brussels on 19 March 2004.
EQUAL is a EU programme that aims to develop new tools to combat discrimination and inequalities on the labour market.
Representatives from several European municipalities presented their respective experience on EQUAL : How do municipalities implement this programme on the ground? What hurdles do they meet and what improvement could be brought to the second round of EQUAL?
As was already the case for EQUAL I, EQUAL II aims to promote new and best practices, supporting transnational cooperation, simplifying the implementation of the programme and fighting discrimination and inequalities on the labour market.
EQUAL currently co-finances 1,300 partnerships.
Selling flowers : an inclusion tool in Seville
Seville representative, Nieves Hernandes Espinal presented the Norte para la Igualdad project that aims to promote social inclusion of gypsies amon socially excluded groups.
Many Seville gypsies live off the black market sale of flowers. This project is about making the trade of such flowers legal by enticing gypsies to work in a specific place and to follow health and hygiene standars. Regulating the sale of flowers thus enables gypsies to become part of the economic and social fabric of Seville.
Municipalities and European Commission face to face
Though welcoming the Commission's initiative, several municipalities complained about EQUAL's "heavy bureaucratic process" as well as the "lack of communication" between the Commision and local/regional government.
The chair of CEMR's working group on employment and social policy, Matthias Schulze-Böing, stated that "most local and regional organisations are not used to working in a partnership network". The Commission should thus not impose too rigid rules, but rather allow these organisations to develop their cooperation.
The representative of DG Employment and social affairs of the EU Commission, Elena Hindemithova aknowledged that there was a communication problem between the Commission and municipalities but she pointed out that communication tools are readily available to the municipalities.
She invited local and regional authorities to consult the EQUAL web site. It features a large database of development partnerships as well as information on, and themes and best practices of previous initiatives.
To visit EQUAL web site, please click here.
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