Over 150 project beneficiaries, programme managers from both the European Commission and the EU Member States as well as other key players got together in Brussels on 30 September to talk about the sustainability of the projects financed under the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme.
This was the first EaSI annual conference coming at the time when EaSI projects have been or are looking at the sustainability of their work for the future.
Apart from looking back with the beneficiaries at their projects’ sustainability, the participants also looked ahead on how the future ESF+ (European Social Fund Plus) could help in upscaling and mainstreaming results of EaSI projects.
The overwhelming majority identified the sustainability of their project with the impact of their activities. To achieve this they presented some useful recommendations for both the European Commission, the project promoters but also the European Union Member States’ administrations.
Primarily, the different stakeholders concluded that for sustainability a win-win situation involving all essential players is crucial. According to them, this can be achieved if a project is realistic and based on the needs of beneficiaries.
Secondly, reaching out to potential partners and funders should be done as of day one, when drafting a project proposal. Transparent internal and external communication sharing the results, benefits and experiences is another important success factor for sustainability. Notably because these are essential building blocks for mutual trust. By carrying out monitoring and mid-term evaluation, the project promoters can intervene at the right time and if needed, re-direct the project.
In the eyes of the participants, the European Commission and EU Member States could assist in eliminating certain obstacles such as a lack of information on the different support programme and on whom to contact. A portal grouping interested parties (potential project partners) and presenting on-going and complete projects and their results would be appreciated. This would ensure that future work is building on existing experiences involving the most appropriate partners. Other, alternative ways of financing were also suggested as well as longer-term grants.
A full report of the event will be published soon.