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Transnational cooperation in the esf in order to strengthen the social dimension in the eu strategy for the Baltic Sea Region Priority Area Education and Youth, subtheme Early school leavers/drop-outs Background

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Transnational cooperation in the ESF in order to strengthen the social dimension in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region - Priority Area Education and Youth, subtheme Early school leavers/drop-outs


The Managing Authorities and Implementing Bodies for the European Social Fund (MA), including Sweden, Aland Islands, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Land of Hamburg, have since 2011 cooperated in a Network1 with the following overarching objectives:

  • Develop a stronger social dimension in the EUSBSR

  • Increase and improve transnational cooperation in the ESF

  • More efficient alignment of funding, linked to the EUSBSR

In order to implement these objectives a number of important steps have been taken by the Network members, aimed at supporting priority area 12:1, Education and Youth, in the EUSBSR Action Plan:

  • The Swedish MA for the ESF has recently started funding of 8 projects focusing Early school leavers/drop-outs. A total of 35 million euro has been allocated to the projects being implemented all over Sweden. Transnational cooperation is a mandatory requirement for the projects and most of them have indicated interest in cooperating with Member States (MS) in the Baltic Sea Region. The largest project - Plug In - is managed by SALAR (Swedish Association for Local and Regional Authorities) and encompasses subprojects in five Swedish regions.

  • In a seminar in Riga representatives from the MAs, the National Agencies for the Lifelong Learning programmes (LLP) and Youth in Action as well as a number of representatives from projects in the field decided on starting a process in order to establish a Flagship project in the Priority area 12:1, Education and Youth, subtheme Early school leavers/drop outs.

  • SALAR accepted to be project leader in a two stage process (see below); funding is to be applied for from the Swedish Institute (now funding the current Network).

  • Poland and Sweden will in autumn 2012 organize a special Partner Search Forum for project promoters in the ESF under the subtheme early school leavers/drop outs in order to set up transnational partnerships (will also include projects from other EU programmes).

  • In connection with the Swedish Working Life Conference in October 2012 seminars will be organized on the subtheme, giving i.a. project promoters possibility for discussions, networking and meetings with policy makers.

  • The Swedish Public Employment Service - also carrying out some larger projects in the subtheme - as well as the National Agency for LLP and Youth in Action - are already included in a network of Swedish Central Government Agencies linked to the larger BSN-ESF project.

Flagship preparation project

A dedicated project for preparing a Flagship in priority area 12:1 will be carried out, linked to the existing Network BSN-ESF.

The project will have the following aims:

  • Identify, bring together and consolidate a network of relevant actors in the field.

  • Develop a common understanding of the concept and construction of a Flagship project in priority area 12; agree on a common framework and work and time plan.

  • Map out and analyze current projects and programmes in the field.

  • Assess and validate projects and activities which could be included in a future Flagship.

  • Develop and organize the parameters for a proposal for a Flagship project, starting at latest second half of 2013.

The project will be managed by SALAR, already a project manager of a large ESF project on drop-outs/early school leavers.2 The preparatory project is scheduled to last one year, starting in September 2012. A proposal for a Flagship project shall be in place in the beginning of 2013.

Flagship project priority area 12:1

The Flagship will include projects from ESF, LLP, Youth in Action, European Regional Development Fund and other flanking programmes as well as representatives from the governmental agencies concerned (Managing Authorities/Implementing Bodies for the ESF, National Agencies for LLP etc).

SALAR will be project leader; future funding will be organized in cooperation with the BSN-ESF network and the Swedish Institute. The Swedish ESF projects have a dedicated budget for transnational cooperation, which will be recommended to be partly used for the Flagship.

The objectives for the Flagship:

  • Organize, support and consolidate transnational cooperation between projects in relevant programmes in the subtheme.

  • Support and facilitate exchange of experiences, good practices and models for combating early school leaving.

  • Increase and support mobility in target groups concerned.

  • Support the implementation of relevant targets and objectives in EUSBSR and Europe 2020 (i.a. drop out rates, mobility, active inclusion, poverty reduction).

  • Have the subtheme included as a dedicated priority in relevant EU programmes in MSs concerned.

  • Strengthen the social dimension in the EUSBSR.

  • Develop a communication and knowledge platform on the subtheme early school leavers/drop outs, also including a wider field of school/work related issues in the region.

Planned activities

  • Organization of seminars and conferences for all actors concerned in order to assess and exchange good practices and disseminate/mainstream products and recommendations to policy makers in MSs concerned.

  • Develop joint mobility schemes for target groups based on good practices from projects/programmes.

  • Carry out study visits and analysis in MSs concerned in order to examine systems and policies in relation to projects.

  • Organize learning seminars for practitioners, policy makers and others concerned presenting results and recommendations from projects implemented.

Added value for the EUSBSR

The problems with drop outs/early school leavers are common to the Member States in the Baltic Sea Region, a fact which was clearly demonstrated during the Network meeting in Riga in May 2012.3 A number of more specific problems as well as future areas for transnational cooperation were also identified. On a more general level the added value for EUSBSR is linked to the organization and diversity of the education and employment systems and policies in place, as well as the welfare regimes in a wider sense. The need for comparisons, benchmarking and mutual learning is obvious.

The eight States bordering the Baltic Sea represent different types of "welfare regimes", i.e the way in which the various welfare systems in a broader sense are organized, financed, and politically/ ideologically anchored. These differences - European diversity! - of models to achieve the common European objectives in the educational, employment and social policies, are an excellent basis for mutual learning, benchmarking, for transnational cooperation, innovation and new ways of thinking.

The project BSN ESF aims to link the European Commission's efforts to promote social innovation with enhanced transnational cooperation. The Flagship project will be an important part of these efforts. As a result the Baltic Sea Region can become a model in several ways: as a forerunner for other macro-regions in the making, as an experimental field in terms of social innovation and transnational cooperation and as a good example of complementarity between the various EU programs (alignment of funding).

1 The Network, Baltic Sea Network - ESF (BSN-ESF) is part of a project funded by the Swedish Institute, Baltic Sea Unit (see appendix).

2 The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) represents the governmental, professional and employer-related interests of Sweden's 290 municipalities and 20 county councils which include the regions of Gotland, Halland, Västra Götaland and Skåne. The Association strives to promote and strengthen local self-government and the development of regional and local democracy. For more information, see

3 The Network meeting in Riga in May 22-23 2012 included a number of presentations from Ministries concerned, project promoters and programme managers.

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