Education and training and addressing the needs of young people are critical features of the developing knowledge economy and culture and sport are also making increasingly significant contributions to our contemporary economy and to social development.
This study examines the support of these areas through the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in the current and preceding periods. Investigations have been conducted at an EU level and on the ground in eight Member States (Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and Spain) in order to identify and examine specific programmes and projects.
Education and training, culture, sport and youth have a greater significance than is generally assumed. They constitute some of the most dynamic parts of the contemporary economy, with scope for growth and substantial job creation, but they also add knowledge, imagination and creativeness to many other parts of Europe’s economy and society.
All four areas have had a significant presence in the ESIF and many contributions have been particularly effective, because of their special characteristics. There are two possibilities in terms of a response to the situation described in this study. It would be possible to argue for a strengthening of the profile of education and training and of the other areas considered by the report. This might take the form of establishing each of the areas separately as priorities or developing a Thematic Objective.
There are several problems with this approach. An alternative way would be to argue for a broader, more strategic approach, proposing as a core theme for the ESIF – the strengthening of human skills and capabilities as Key Enablers of economic and social development. This would include specific reference to the contributions of culture and sport and special provision for encouraging the talents of young people, taking advantage of their enthusiasm and optimism.