"EQUAL is part of the European Union's strategy for more and better jobs and for ensuring that no-one is denied access to them. Funded by the European Social Fund, this initiative is testing since 2001 new ways of tackling discrimination and inequality experienced by those in work and those looking for a job. EQUAL co-finances activities in all EU Member States. The EU contribution to EQUAL of 3.274 billion EUR is matched by national funding. EQUAL differs from the European Social Fund mainstream programmes in its function as a laboratory (principle of innovation) and in its emphasis on active co-operation between Member States. Two calls for proposals for EQUAL projects in the Member States have taken place so far, the first one in 2001, the second one in 2004. Responsibility for the implementation of the Community Initiative programmes in the Member States lies with the national authorities.
The building blocks of EQUAL
Partnership: to bring together key actors (local and regional authorities, training bodies, public employment services, NGOs, enterprises, social partners) in Development Partnerships (DPs) on a geographical or sectoral level to tackle discrimination and inequality.
Thematic approach: to concentrate actions on thematic fields in keeping with the European Employment Strategy.
Innovation: to explore and test innovative approaches in formulating, delivering and implementing employment and training policies.
Empowerment: to strengthen capacity building by making all relevant actors, including beneficiaries, work together on an equal footing.
Transnationality: to render it possible for individual DPs and national authorities to learn from each other and co-operate productively across borders.
Mainstreaming: to develop and test new ways of integrating best practices into employment and social inclusion policies."