Sunday, 14 December 2008

Regulations: European Social Fund (and Structural Funds)

The cooperation procedure is applied to implementing legislation concerning the European Social Fund (ESF).

The ESF has been incorporated into the structural funds, which means that we have to look at the Regulations common to the structural funds to know how the European Social Fund is supposed to work.

Implementing rules issued by the Commission try to keep the 2007 to 2013 projects on the actively communicative and virtuous path.

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Article 148 TEC

The cooperation procedure is used for the implementing rules concerning the European Social Fund, according to Article 148 TEC (ex Article 125). Although the provision mentions decisions, in practice they are Regulations.

The current Article 148 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC), as published in the latest consolidated version of the treaties, OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/112:

Article 148 TEC

The Council, acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 251 and after
consulting the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, shall adopt
implementing decisions relating to the European Social Fund.

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Original Lisbon Treaty (ToL)

Article 2, point 122 of the original Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) accepts that the implementing rules based on Article 148 are given in Regulations (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/82):

122) In Article 148, the words ‘implementing decisions’ shall be replaced by ‘implementing
regulations’.

The horizontal amendment in Article 2, point 2(c) ToL introduces the ordinary legislative procedure, which is more readable, but the cooperation procedure already applies.

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Renumbering ToL

The Table of equivalences of the original Treaty of Lisbon tells us that the Chapter on the European Social Fund was to become Title XI. Article 148 TEC first became Article 148 TFEU (ToL), then renumbered Article 164 TFEU in the consolidated versions of the amending treaties (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/216–217).


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Consolidated Lisbon Treaty

Article 164 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU, after these modest adjustments, appears as follows in the consolidated TFEU, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, OJ 9.5.2008 C 115/119:


(TITLE XI
THE EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND)

Article 164 TFEU
(ex Article 148 TEC)

The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, shall adopt implementing regulations relating to the European Social Fund.


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General ESF information

The Commission’s Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities offers a portal to the European Social Fund:

http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/esf/index_en.htm

The ESF’s role in promoting the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs is clearly emphasised.


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Structural Funds

The information on offer about the European Social Fund centrally is somewhat superficial, although the treaty text would lead one to believe that the ESF is an autonomous system.

In practice, the ESF has been incorporated into the structural funds under the banner of cohesion.

For news and actualities, you can go to the Commission’s Inforegio web pages:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_en.htm

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Programming period 2007 – 2013

For a short description of the structural funds during the programming period 2007 to 2013, the Legislation page offers links to some of the relevant Regulations, although communications issues seem to be the real obsession:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/country/commu/leg_en.cfm?nmenu=2

As one of the structural funds, the European Social Fund is governed according to Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 (OJ 31.7.2006 L 210/25), available here:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:210:0025:0078:EN:PDF

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Implementing Regulation No 1828/2006

For those actually working with the structural funds, the nitty-gritty is found in the implementing rules. Here, too, communicating the good works, seems to have been the main priority when writing the rules.

More exactly the implementing rules are: Commission Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006 of 8 December 2006 setting out rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and of Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Regional Development Fund


http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:371:0001:0163:EN:PDF


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ESF Regulation No 1081/2006

Rules specific to the European Social Fund are set out in a separate Regulation.

Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the European Social Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1784/1999 (OJ 31.7.2006 L 210/12) is available here:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2006/l_210/l_21020060731en00120018.pdf


Article 2 sets out the tasks of the European Social Fund and Article 3 its scope of assistance.

Ralf Grahn