The European Social Fund (ESF), one of the four structural funds of the European Union (EU), constitutes the main tool for the growth of human capital and the improvement of the operation of the European labour market. ESF is part of the European Union policy for Employment and Economic and Social Cohesion, and provides assistance according to the needs of training and employment for all the citizens in the European territory.
According to the provisions of Community Regulation (EC) 1784/1999, the ESF mission and interventions are focused on measures for the prevention and fighting of unemployment, the growth of human capital and social inclusion. ESF objectives are the achievement of high levels of employment, equality of men and women, sustainable growth and economic and social cohesion. Specifically, the Fund contributes towards actions that are undertaken for the implementation of the European Employment Strategy and the Guidelines for Employment.
European Social Fund Unit in Cyprus
In the framework of the Structural Funds Regulation, for each Single Programming Document (SPD), a Managing Authority (MA) is being assigned by the Member State. The duties of the MA include the implementation, the correctness and the effectiveness of the management of the Programme including the concentration of statistical and financial data, the preparation of the Annual Implementation Report, the organization of the mid-term evaluation etc.
In the case of Cyprus, a single Managing Authority has been assigned, which has the responsibility for the application of all the Programmes dealing with the Structural Funds, and the Community Initiatives. With the Council of Ministers Decision No of 57.798 of 30 April 2003, as the Managing Authority, was appointed the Planning Bureau (PB). With the same decision, the MA transfered the competences for the application of the Programmes that deal with the ESF, to the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance (MLSI), which was appointed as the Intermediate Body (IB) for ESF.
Aiming for the efficient and effective management of the ESF resources, the MLSI proceeded with the creation of a new service, the European Social Fund (ESF) Unit, which undertook the roles of the Intermediate Body for the Measures of SPD for Objective 3, as well as that of the National Support Structure (NSS) for the Community Initiative EQUAL.
The duties and responsibilities of the ESF Unit include the process of the selection of projects, the monitoring of the physical and financial progress of the projects and the exercise of control. They also include the safeguarding of compatibility and conformity with the National and Community policies that concern Competition, Public Procurement, Environment, Gender Equality, Employment, and Publicity and Information.