The EQUAL Community Initiative is best described as a novel way at enlarging the labor market by looking at numerous possibilities. This new approach helped responsible authorities to perceive social policies and employment problems differently. The Community Initiative encouraged all parties to cooperate and create together. This innovated approach revealed to society that tolerance can be mastered. It reflects a multiplicity of possibilities, in which effective ways to fight discrimination and intolerance were searched, new innovative methods and techniques of integration into labor market were designed and put into practice.
In 2004, with respect to the experience gained in administering Human Resource projects, the ESFA was entrusted with supervision of two new programmes: Community Initiative EQUAL and SPD 2004-2006. EQUAL was a part of the European Employment strategy. This strategy aimed at creating more and better jobs, and opening a broader labour market for all. Financed by the European Social Fund, EQUAL developed and tested new and innovative ideas, while combating discrimination and inequality in relation to the labour market. This programme provided opportunities to conduct pilot tests for developing new ideas and to assess these ideas so that they may influence employment and training policies and practice through application. Transnational cooperation and exchange of experience was a crucial component of EQUAL.
The principle components and architecture of EQUAL i.e. partnership with empowerment, transnationality, mainstreaming, innovation and thematic approach, has proven to be extremely effective in piloting comprehensive approaches to the disadvantaged and discriminated. The successful development of an integrated approach to the multidimensional problems of discrimination has now become part of the European Union’s strategy for more and better jobs and for ensuring that no one is denied access to them. Beyond the financial data and the quantitative results, it should be mentioned that the EQUAL Community Initiative afforded greater opportunities for those people who have undergone difficulties gaining access to the labor force, such as women and young unexperienced people, workers with difficulties adapting, disabled people, immigrants or those unemployed of ethnic minorities. Personal, family, and work life of individual women and men have improved under this programme.
During this programming period 85 projects were implemented and 14,56 mln. Euro absorped.