Synergies and complementarities between ESF and ERF 26
ANNEX A – Glossary on asylum and existing EU asylum measures 28
ANNEX B – Asylum Seekers’ access to education, training, employment, health care and social services in the EU Member States 32
ANNEX C – Country Fiches 41
Czech Rpublic 54
United Kingdom / Great britain 112
The European Social Fund (ESF) is one of the Structural Funds of the European Union (EU), created to reduce differences in prosperity and living standards across the EU Member States and regions. The Structural Funds therefore promote both economic and social cohesion. The specific role of the ESF is to promote employment in the EU. The fund helps Member States to make Europe’s work force and enterprises better equipped to face new, global challenges such as demographic changes and an ageing population. Over the period 2007 – 2013 around €75 billion euro will be distributed to the EU Member States to achieve its goals. Each Member State has put in place one or more Operational Programmes which set out the specific national objectives and actions proposed.
The EQUAL Community Initiative, an innovative programme funded by the ESF, has been testing since 2001 new ways of tackling discrimination and inequality experienced by those in work and those looking for a job. One of the themes included in EQUAL was the social and vocational integration of asylum seekers, a unique theme given that no EU funding had ever specifically supported this very disadvantaged target group to find employment and access vocational education and training. However, EQUAL will come to an end in 2008 and its lessons and good practices will have to be mainstreamed into the new ESF Operational Programmes.
Regulation 1081/2006 for the ESF 2007-2013 says (whereas): "New lessons have been learnt from the Community Initiative EQUAL, especially in respect of the combination of local, regional, national and European action. These lessons should be integrated into ESF support. Particular attention should be paid to the participation of target groups, the integration of migrants, including those seeking asylum, the identification of policy issues and their subsequent mainstreaming, innovation and experimentation techniques, methodologies for transnational cooperation, outreach to groups marginalised in relation to the labour market, the impact of social issues on the internal market, and access to and management of projects taken on by non-governmental organisations."
Around eight Member States have specifically included asylum seekers in their Operational Programmes 2007 – 2013 and more than 10 are making references to asylum seekers. This means that funds have been set aside for the development of projects to support this highly disadvantaged group to access employment and vocational education and training. In several other countries, there is a possibility that asylum seekers can be included in ESF programmes, even though they are not specifically mentioned. This Vademecum is developed to help all those that will be developing and implementing measures for asylum seekers to understand the specific situation and needs of this disadvantaged group to access employment and vocational education and training, by offering background information on the specific EU and national contexts and on the target group, examples of good practice and guidelines.
Why a Vademecum?
For the first time, asylum seekers are explicitly mentioned in an ESF Regulation. They are a very particular target group. In order for any project or other type of activity aimed at promoting the employment of asylum seekers to be successful, they have to take account of their specific characteristics and a series of contextual challenges. At the same time, asylum seekers also provide a significant opportunity, as they can make a valuable contribution to any Member State in which they are staying. However, any effort to help integrate them in the labour market has to take into account all negative and positive factors.
The purpose of this Vademecum is to help national authorities responsible for the ESF and those implementing projects funded under the ESF to understand what these challenges and opportunities are, in order to develop initiatives that are relevant and truly effective. The specific objectives of the Vademecum are to:
Present the EU and national contextual situation with regard to asylum seekers’ access to education, training and employment and attitudes towards their social and vocational integration.
Discuss the specific challenges of the target group, to be taken into account when developing future ESF initiatives.
Review the overall approaches undertaken in the EQUAL Asylum Seeker theme which can be replicated in ESF mainstream programmes.