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1984 - 1988 

The next major reform of the ESF took place in the early eighties because of the high unemployment rate in the Member States of the European Community.

In 1978 the European Council called for more ESF actions and this led to an increase of the Fund’s resources for supporting vocational training and mobility of workers.

The review in 1982 targeted on preventing the rising unemployment, especially among young people. Programmes for young people accounted for 44% of ESF beneficiaries in 1982, as Member States were drawing up new education- to work schemes and demand was growing for the ESF to help more.

Also by the 1980s, the growth of the fund and the number of payment applications began to strain the Commissions capacity and there calls for the administration of the fund to be decentralised.

The Single European Act in 1986, which was the first major reform of the founding Treaties (1957) of the European Economic Community (EEC), introduced the objective of economic and social cohesion with the adoption of the first regulation which gave birth to Cohesion Policy. This helped to balance the consequences of the opening of an internal market to the less developed countries and also to reduce the widened disparities between regions occurred by the enlargement in the European Community of 12 Member States.

In the communication document of February 1987 entitled “Making a success of the Single Act: a new frontier for Europe, is mentioned:

“The Single European Act improves significantly the institutional system and sets new objectives for the Community, notably the completion of the internal market by 1992 and the strengthening of economic and social cohesion. The realisation of these two objectives will also respond to the hopes and needs of the countries which have just jointed and which rightly expect that their involvement in the Community should underpin their development and help raise their living standards through a combination of their own efforts and support from their partners”.

At the same period the Integrated Mediterranean Programmes were adopted. They launched in 1986 with the aim to protect Mediterranean regions of France, Italy and Greece against the impact of the enlargement of the Community to Spain and Portugal.

‘’The Integrated Mediterranean Programmes focused on the need of European Community to shape policies for regional development and cohesion’’.

These programmes included assistance for industrial and agricultural conversion by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Fund (EAGGF) as well as human resources development provided by the European Social Fund in a framework of multi-annual programming.

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