The role of Local Councils and NGOs in the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy

27 November 2012

On November 23 & 24, MEUSAC organised two seminars entitled ‘Europe 2020: from EU strategy to
local action’. The seminars focused on how local councils and NGOs can be key players in making
the Europe 2020 strategy a reality in their communities. One important means to achieve such an
aim is by tapping the right EU funding opportunities to implement initiatives in line with the Europe
2020 targets. The EU has set five ambitious objectives – on employment, innovation, education, social
inclusion and climate/energy – to be reached by 2020. As a result, each Member State has adopted its
own national targets in each of these areas.

National Contact Points and Managing Authorities of the EU Funding Programmes were also present
to discuss the different programmes available to support the initiatives of local councils and NGOs.
EU funded projects can thus contribute towards achieving Malta’s agreed targets under the Europe
2020 Strategy. The seminars included a panel discussion as well as working groups discussing
different topics where participants could explore the possibilities of EU funding opportunities. They
were also provided with information about how they can implement their initiatives and projects within
the communities they work with.

In his opening speech, Dr Vanni Xuereb, MEUSAC Head, said that in Malta, local councils and NGOs
can contribute significantly to delivering on the Europe 2020 Strategy. He added that being in direct
contact with citizens at grass-roots level, local councils and NGOs are often best placed to come up
with the necessary initiatives in their respective field of activity in major aspects of the Europe 2020’s
key priorities, such as education, research, fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and new
businesses, and changing the citizens’ behaviour on issues like climate and energy, lifelong learning
and social inclusion. Dr Xuereb stated that local councils and NGOs must be fully aware of the targets
of this strategy, the reasons that motivate these targets, the measures that are being adopted to
implement the strategy and the role of the EU and its Member States in supporting these measures.

The keynote speaker during the seminar for local councils was Dr Krzysztof Nowaczek, Policy
Administrator in Horizontal Policies and Networks Directorate at the Committee of the Regions where
he coordinates the work of the Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform. He referred to several projects in
various European cities, related to various policy fields of the Europe 2020 strategy. The projects fall
under one or more of the 7 Europe 2020 flagship initiatives, namely the digital agenda for Europe, the
innovation union, youth on the move, a resource efficiency Europe, the new industrial policy for the
globalisation era, the agenda for new skills and jobs and the platform against poverty.

During the seminar for NGOs, the keynote speaker was Ms Ingrid Gardiner, European Social Fund
Effectiveness Manager within UK’s National Council for Voluntary Organisations, who has over 18
years of experience working in the charitable sector in the UK and Canada. She explained the
importance for more integrated EU funding programmes. Ms Gardiner said that NGOs should have
direct access to funding through a specific civil society work stream within the European Social Fund
(ESF), an expanded global grants programme and simplified access through lump sum payments.
Another priority that she mentioned is that NGOs support the Commission’s proposal to ring-fence at
least 20% of ESF for social inclusion and anti-poverty initiatives.

Both seminars were organised by MEUSAC and financed by the European Commission (DG
Communication) as one of this year’s operations of the Joint Communication Plan 2012, an interinstitutional
arrangement involving the Government of Malta, the European Commission and the
European Parliament.