Common Strategic Framework

To support the focus on the Europe 2020 Strategy and to achieve tangible results, the “Common Strategic Framework”  (CSF), covering cohesion policy, rural development, and fisheries funds, provides a comprehensive investment strategy for all funds.

In Part II of the CSF, key actions for each objective are presented to demonstrate how these can be delivered in practice, and how synergies between the funds and wider EU funding instruments can be exploited to increase impact.

The CSF is supposed to be used to develop a national level investment strategy in the form of Partnership Agreements which will be agreed between Member States and the Commission. These agreements are developed with the close involvement of national, regional, and local partners from the public, private, and third sectors, and will set out the multi-level governance arrangements for each fund.

Gender equality requirements for the Funds under the CSF

In terms of promotion of equality between men and women and non-discrimination, Member States should pursue the objective of equality between men and women as set out in Article 8 of the TFEU and ensure its mainstreaming in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of actions under all the CSF Funds. ERDF, ESF and Cohesion Fund programmes should explicitly specify the expected contribution of these Funds to gender equality, by setting out in detail objectives and instruments.

Gender analysis should be included in the analysis of the objectives of the intervention. The participation of the relevant bodies responsible for promoting gender equality in the partnership should be ensured. It is strongly recommended to organise permanent structures or explicitly assign a function to existing structures to advise on gender equality in order to provide the necessary expertise in the preparation, monitoring and evaluation of the CSF Funds.

Monitoring systems and data collection are also essential to provide a clear picture of how programmes are meeting gender equality objectives. In this respect, rather than a general requirement to address these issues in all evaluation activities, it is recommended that managing authorities, in conjunction with the monitoring committees, should undertake either general self-assessment exercises, specific evaluation studies or a structured reflection focusing on the application of the gender mainstreaming principle.

The composition of the monitoring committees should be gender balanced and should include a gender expertise/responsibility function.

Member States should take appropriate steps to prevent any discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation as well as to ensure accessibility during the preparation and implementation of programmes and operations co-financed by the CSF Funds and describe explicitly the actions to take into account this principle in the programmes.

This does not prevent any Member State from maintaining or adopting positive actions to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to any of these grounds (Art. 5 of Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin (OJ, L 180, 19.07.2000, p. 22) and Art. 7 of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16).

The opinion issued by the equality bodies on the programmes for the ESF, ERDF and Cohesion Fund aims to ensure that all necessary provisions are in place. In addition, the involvement of equality bodies or other organisations active in combating discrimination is strongly recommended in order to provide the necessary expertise in the preparation, monitoring and evaluation of the Funds.

All programmes will need to combat discrimination and promote equal opportunities as well as to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities during their preparation and implementation. Accessibility should be a characteristic of all products and services offered to the public and co-financed by the CSF Funds. In particular, accessibility to the built environment, transport and information and communication, including new technologies, should be required by the Managing Authorities. Besides the principle of mainstreaming,Member States will need to put in place positive actions to be supported by the ESF to promote equal opportunities.”

The CSF has strongly addressed requirements for a coherent integration of gender equality into the preparatory processes in the MS and regions. Nevertheless the text fails to distinguish between gender equality/the dual gender equality approach, non-discrimination, and equal opportunities. This mixture, already present in the CPR Regulation, might cause (and has already caused) misunderstandings (in relation to the differences of the approaches mentioned) in the Member States and regions when drafting Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes, and might lead to choosing one of the approaches instead of implementing all of them. For a discussion on this, see the Gender CoP paper – link to Ecorys report.

Besides the mixing of horizontal strategies also the CSF contains only one chapter on gender equality (etc.) and is not coherently integrated into all thematic issues and paragraphs addressing procedures of the framework documents.


Good Practice

Position of the Commission Services on the development of Partnership and programmes (for Germany). (All position papers for the Member States can be found here)

Thematic objective: Promoting employment and supporting labour mobility

Europe 2020 headline target Current situation (2011) National 2020 target in the NRP: 75% of the 20–64 year-olds to be employed

Country Specific Recommendation n. 3 of 2012: Increase the availability of fulltime childcare facilities and all-day schools. For this thematic objective the funding priority translates into the following priorities and specific objectives reflecting country specific challenges to be supported by the CSF funds ->

Equality between men and women and reconciliation between work and private life

  • Reduce labour market segmentation and enhance gender equality on the labour market and facilitate the reconciliation of work and private life;
  • Further raise awareness and mobilize economic and social partners to address gender segmentation, the gender pay and pension gap, as well as unequal distribution of unpaid care work;
  • Increase the number of and improve the access to affordable and flexible care services (such as full-time early childhood education and care, out-of school care and care for dependent persons including the elderly);
  • Enhance support for women with children or single parents and for those with migration backgrounds in order to facilitate the entry into the labour market;
  • Tackle gender stereotypes in education and training systems, promote less gender-biased career choices, and facilitate women’s promotion into management positions;
  • Facilitate women’s reintegration into high quality employment after career breaks due to care duties;
  • Promote innovative ways of work organization, including teleworking and flexible working arrangements allowing people to combine informal care duties with work and develop innovative solutions for the provision of child care and long-term care services.”


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Created: 2013/07/09   Changed: 2014/12/04