Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

Inclusive green economic growth and decent employment are of key importance for the development and prosperity of European countries and for the well-being and personal realisation of individuals. For economic growth to be truly sustainable, it needs to be accompanied by eco-efficiency improvements, climate control and resilient measures, alongside active labour market and social inclusion policies, in order to avoid harming the natural environment it depends on or damaging the social fabric of European societies.

Within the EUthe European Semester provides a framework for the coordination of economic policies, fostering jobs creation and growth, and ensuring among other sound public finances. Strategic investments of EUR 500 billion are expected by 2020 through the Investment Plan for Europe. By the same year, the EU 2020 Strategy for growth and jobs aims to put 75% of the 20-64 year-olds in job.

Targets and Indicators:

Blue Growth

Blue Growth is the long term strategy to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole. Seas and oceans are drivers for the European economy and have great potential for innovation and growth. It is the maritime contribution to achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The ‘blue’ economy represents roughly 5.4 million jobs and generates a gross added value of almost €500 billion a year. However, further growth is possible in a number of areas which are highlighted within the strategy. The strategy consists of developing sectors that have a high potential for sustainable jobs and growth, such as: a. aquaculture (Fisheries website); b. coastal tourism; c. marine biotechnology; d. ocean energy; e. seabed mining.

European Research Area

The European Research Area (ERA) is a unified research area open to the world and based on the internal market. The ERA enables free circulation of researchers, scientific knowledge and technology. Six priorities of ERA:

  • more effective national research systems
  • optimal transnational cooperation and competition, including optimal transnational cooperation and competition and research infrastructures
  • an open labour market for researchers
  • gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research
  • optimal circulation, access to and transfer of scientific knowledge including knowledge circulation and open access
  • international cooperation

New Cohesion policy (2021-2027) – also see the EBLIDA report

The European Structural and Investment Funds 2021-2027: Funding Opportunities for LibrariesThe European Structural and Investment Funds 2021-2027 report

A focus on five investment priorities, where the EU is best placed to deliver. The main objectives driving EU investments in 2021-2027 are :

  • Regional development investments will strongly focus on objectives 1 – to promote the development and adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind – and 2 – covers regions struggling with structural difficulties and helps to reduce gaps in socio-economic development.
  • 65% to 85% of ERDF and Cohesion Fund resources will be allocated to these priorities, depending on Member States’ relative wealth.
  • Smarter Europe, through innovation, digitisation, economic transformation and support to small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Greener, carbon free Europe, implementing the Paris Agreement and investing in energy transition, renewables and the fight against climate change.
  • a more Connected Europe, with strategic transport and digital networks.
  • a more Social Europe, delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights and supporting quality employment, education, skills, social inclusion and equal access to healthcare.
  • Europe closer to citizens, by supporting locally-led development strategies and sustainable urban development across the EU.

Creative Europe

Creative Europe is the European Commission’s framework Programme for support to the culture and audiovisual SECTORS. With a budget of Eur 1,46 billion, it supports Europe’s cultural and creative sectors.

It includes three programmes: a) Culture, b) Media and c) cross-sectoral cultural programmes. It is itself divided into the following subprogrammes.

For Culture:

1) European Platforms;

2) European networks;

3) European cooperation projects;

4) Literary translation.

For Media:

1) Initiatives to promote the distribution of works and the access to markets;

2) Initiatives for the development of projects or a set of projects (slate funding);

3) Support for the production of television programmes or video games;

4) Activities to increase interest in and improve access to audiovisual works;

5) Activities that promote interests in films, such as cinema networks or film festivals;

6) Measures that facilitate international co-production and strengthen the circulation and distribution of works;

7) Activities to build skills and capacities of audiovisual sector professionals.

For Cross-sector cultural programmes:

1) The Creative Europe Guarantee Facility, managed by the European Investment Fund (EIF) on behalf of the European Commission, benefits micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the cultural and creative sectors, often facing difficulties in accessing loans;

2) Transnational policy development, designed to support the exchange of experiences and know-how relating to new business and management models;

3) Supporting a network of Creative Europe Desk, designed to provide information about the Creative Europe and assistance to projects as well as stimulating cross border cooperation.

Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs

Under the broad theme of “competitiveness of SMEs” the ESI funds invest in a range of investment priorities and union priorities to enhance the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). More details on the range of specific Investment Priorities and Union Priorities are found in the fund regulations. (Under other themes the ESF through investment in social enterprises, entreprensurship educations and training also contributes to SMEs development.)

EU External Investment Plan

The External Investment Plan (EIP) was adopted in September 2017 to help boost investment in partner countries in Africa and the European Neighbourhood. It aims to:

  • contribute to the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDG) while tackling some of the root causes of migration
  • mobilise and leverage sustainable public and private investments to improve economic and social development with a particular focus on decent job creation

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)

The EMFF is the fund for the EU’s maritime and fisheries policies for 2014-2020. (Information on funding after 2020 is available here: EU budget: Commission proposes a new fund to invest in the maritime economy and support fishing communities). It is one of the five European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds which complement each other and seek to promote a growth and job based recovery in Europe.

The fund

  • helps fishermen in the transition to sustainable fishing
  • supports coastal communities in diversifying their economies
  • finances projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts
  • supports sustainable aquaculture developments
  • makes it easier for applicants to access financing.

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF)

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund provides support to people losing their jobs as a result of major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation, e.g. when a large company shuts down or production is moved outside the EU, or as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. The EGF has a maximum annual budget of EUR 150 million for the period 2014-2020. It can fund up to 60% of the cost of projects designed to help workers made redundant find another job or set up their own business. As a general rule, the EGF can be used only where over 500 workers are made redundant by a single company (including its suppliers and downstream producers), or if a large number of workers are laid off in a particular sector in one or more neighbouring regions.

EGF cases are managed and implemented by national or regional authorities. Each project runs for 2 years. What support can the EGF provide?

The EGF can co-finance projects including measures such as:

  • help with looking for a job
  • careers advice
  • education, training and re-training
  • mentoring and coaching
  • entrepreneurship and business creation

It can also provide training allowances, mobility/relocation allowances, subsistence allowances or similar support.

The EGF does not co-finance social protection measures such as pensions or unemployment benefit.

New Skills Agenda for Europe

The new Skills Agenda for Europe, adopted by the Commission on 10 June 2016, launched 10 actions to make the right training, skills and support available to people in the EU.

It includes ten actions:

1) Upskilling Pathways: New Opportunities for Adults;

2) European Qualifications Framework;

3) Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition;

4) Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills;

5) EU Skills Profile Tool Kit for Third-Country Nationals;

6) Vocational education and training (VET);

7) Key competences;

8) Europass;

9) Graduate Tracking;

10) Analysing and sharing of best practice on brain flows.

The 10 actions are designed to:

  • improve the quality and relevance of training and other ways of acquiring skills
  • make skills more visible and comparable
  • improve information and understanding of trends and patterns in demands for skills and jobs (skills intelligence) to enable people make better career choices, find quality jobs and improve their life chances.

Urban development

For the preparation of an EU common position, European Council conclusions were adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 12 May 2016 on the European Union and its Member States’ objectives and priorities for the Habitat III Conference. In its conclusions, the Council welcomes the Discussion Paper elaborated by the Commission and endorse the proposed four strings of action as priority areas for the New Urban Agenda, namely:

  • Promoting the social dimension of sustainable urban development through inclusive and save cities in order to better fight against urban poverty and exclusion.
  • Promoting green and resilient cities. Environmental sustainability is fundamental to ensuring the prosperity and well-being of all people within planetary boundaries.
  • Promoting prosperous and innovative cities with a particular focus on growth and job creation.
  • Promoting good urban governance by strengthening the capacity of the authorities at all levels of government in integrated planning and public finance management, by establishing adequate legal and policy frameworks, by fostering access to public and private investments by municipalities, and by fostering women empowerment in urban governance matters.

Sustainable and responsible supply chains – International cooperation and development

International manufacturing is increasingly organised in Global Value Chains (GVC). This means that when you buy a shirt in Europe, it may have been sewn in Cambodia, using cloth manufactured in China from cotton grown in Uzbekistan and coloured with dyes from India. As a result, individual choices made by consumers in Europe may have consequences that impact on the lives of workers and communities in multiple countries across the world.

The European Cooperative Society (SCE)

The European Cooperative Society (SCE) is an optional legal form of a cooperative. It aims to facilitate cooperatives’ cross-border and trans-national activities. The members of an SCE cannot all be based in one country. The regulation of the Statute for a European Cooperative Society (2003) aims to facilitate cooperatives‘ cross-border and trans-national activities. It also provides a legal instrument for other companies wishing to group together to access markets, achieve economies of scale, or undertake research and development activities.

The Statute also enables 5 or more European citizens from more than one EU country to create a European Cooperative Society. This is the first and only form of European company that can be established from the beginning and with limited liability. its principal object is to satisfy its members’ needs and not the return of capital investment.

Tackling discrimination at work

Laws for equal rights between women and men have existed since the very early days of the European Community.  Since the 1970s a total of 13 pieces of legislation have been adopted with the aim of ensuring that women and men get fair and equal treatment at work.

These laws cover a range of areas including equal treatment when apply for a job, equal treatment at work, protection of pregnant workers and breastfeeding mothers, and rights to maternity leave and parental leave. Millions of women and men across Europe enjoy these rights every day – but few of them know that the European Union is behind these laws!

Trafficking in human beings

Trafficking in human beings is a grave violation of fundamental human rights and an extremely pernicious and highly lucrative form of transnational organised crime. As such, it is prohibited by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 5.3), and defined by the TFEU as a particularly serious form of organised crime (Article 83), with links to immigration policy (Article 79).

Persons with disabilities

The EU promotes the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society, in line with the EU human rights approach to disability issues. Disability is a rights issue and not a matter of discretion. This approach is also at the core of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which the EU is a party.

Libraries are already intensively working towards the attainment of SDG 8. Some of them act as liaison agents between employers and job-seekers. Job desks where librarians or experts help the unemployed to file job applications are frequently hosted in libraries and free access to Internet, as well as other cutting-edge technology provided by libraries, encourage people to make use of advanced technologies.

SDG 8-oriented work would mean for libraries to intensify the quality of their activity in times of stagnation and poor job opportunities, in collaboration with the private sector. A possible activity, for instance, would be to act as an information centre in relation to the European Social and Investment Funds, thus increasing citizens’ awareness on how sustainable European expenditure is.

There is a substantial overlap between SDG 4- and SDG 8- oriented activities running in libraries. The organisation of sustainable development workshops on robotics and 3D in the Madrid library system as well as in some other libraries in Spain is an example of the link between quality education and sustainable economic growth since it enhances job-seeking. In Madrid, children too are encouraged to have fun by using new technologies in an appropriate way. (See: Madrid city libraries and 2030 Agenda,

Similarly, Global Libraries – Bulgaria Foundation (FSBB) is a partner in the “Get Your Facts Straight! Media Literacy for All” in Bulgaria – a program co-funded by the European Commission which provides media literacy training to students and young people from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as to their parents and / or grandparents. The Global Libraries – Bulgaria Foundation also implements “E-skills for E-inclusion” project, whose main purpose is to develop a computer literacy training program for vulnerable groups and facilitate their access to the labour market.

This project is being implemented in partnership with 5 other organizations from Northern Ireland, Spain, Italy and Romania and is funded by the European Erasmus + program. The E-Portal of Memory and Knowledge is dedicated to the European history and science; the Tech Lib offers a Mini Technology Centre at the Regional Library “Hristo Botev” – Vratsa: children and teenagers get acquainted with the opportunity to experience new technological wonders.


This Chapter refers to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) 2021-2027, and in particular to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund+ (ESF).

In order to make the most out of these Funds, first refer to the ESIF managing authorities, which are different in every Member State and are responsible for national operational programmes and policies. The list of national authorities, country after country, and region after region, is available at the following link,

In the Table(s) below, for each ESIF objective: Column 1 designates the ERDF or ESF+ specific objective. Column 2 and 3 set, respectively, the related outputs and results indicated by ESIF official documents. It can be easily inferred that European Commission criteria for evaluation are quite general and do not get into the detail of the programmes. It is up to Member States to set additional criteria for evaluation.

Finally, Column 4 lists examples of library projects set up to pursue ESIF objectives or to attain specific Sustainable Development Goals. ESIF-funded and SDG-oriented library projects are matched with specific ESIF 2021-2027 objectives and sub-objectives; what is shown in the table, however, is a simulation: under which presumed ESIF specific objective could SDG-oriented library projects have been funded, if they were to be presented within the ESIF 2021-2027 framework?

More detailed information on the Library Projects listed in Column 5 can be found in the Sustainable Development Goals and Libraries – First European Report.

SDG 8: Objective

Key trends in “Sustainable economic growth” show the following evidence (Eurostat Report, pp. 165 and ss):

  • The EU economy shows continuous growth over the past few years;
  • Economic growth in the EU has become more sustainable;
  • Overall, the employment situation in the EU keeps improving;
  • Unemployment and long-term unemployment have decreased since 2013;
  • Labour market prospects for young people have improved since 2014 but still remain precarious;
  • Labour market prospects for young people have improved since 2014 but still remain precarious;
  • A higher education leads to increased employment possibilities;
  • Employment opportunities are lower for migrants and people with disabilities;
  • Women’s participation in the labour market is increasing, but gender differences persist;
  • Over the past few years, work in the EU has become safer but less economically secure.


Goal 8’s attainment is monitored through the following main indicators: Source: EU SDG Indicator set 2020:

Goal 8 - Indicator

Library Indicators enabling the evaluation of library performances and how they can match SDG indicators.

A report on Library indicators and SDGs has been released by the ELSA working Group: “Towards the implementation of SDG Indicators in European Libraries”

summarize Related projects on E-PANEMA

The project maximizes public libraries' potential as hubs for contemporary art. Creating a European network, it supports emerging artists through library residencies, turning them into ateliers for public engagement. The initiative enhances artists' visibility, opens commercial avenues, and strengthens the sector. Libraries evolve, reflecting on their cultural roles, hosting workshops, exhibitions, and training sessions for librarians and artists.
The goal of the "For Good Vibes - Read Books" project is to foster a reading culture and promote literacy in Split-Dalmatia County. Through the Mobile Library Service, it provides book access to areas lacking local libraries. Focusing on youth under 25, individuals over 54, and people with disabilities, it aims to popularize reading. By enhancing literature access, the project reduces social exclusion in these groups.
The objective of the project is to facilitate socio-economic activity of residents of Ludza (Latvia), Rokiškis (Lithuania) and Jēkabpils (Latvia) municipalities thus contributing to the improvement of living conditions in the border region of Latvia and Lithuania – in 3 deprived municipalities, which are remote from large development centres, with low birth and high death rates and low level of income.
Estonian libraries (~830 in total) currently rely on three different library systems (ILS) and three different user services portals. All these systems differ by their user experience, service provision, and their functionalities that support the day-to-day work of libraries. The aim is to replace by the year 2026 three user services portals with a single portal and improve the ability of libraries to offer digital services
The national service for the lending of e-publications covers e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines, and audiobooks. The service can be used free of charge by all people with an Estonian personal identification code, both from a web browser and conveniently from a smart device. In addition, a separate mobile application is being developed, which allows e-publications to be used even without the internet connection.
In 2014, the city of Bremen developed a project called “Future Training Opportunities” (Zukunftschance Ausbildung ), targeted to help those with refugee status gain entry-level qualification (EQ, Einstiegsqualifizierung) with accompanying language lessons and socio-educational support. In addition to acquiring language skills, the vocational qualification is essential for successful and sustainable integration into the labour market in Germany. The EQ prepares refugees and asylum seekers for an apprenticeship and a dual training programme in Bremen public service and in private companies. The library joined this city-wide project as an apprenticeship site in 2015.
As a key part of the city’s ‘Refugee Help Forum’, the Hamburg Public Library System, Bücherhallen Hamburg, joined forces with the as the Volkshochschule adult education centre to support refugee language acquisition. Bücherhallen Hamburg do this through their ‘Dialog in Deutsch’ volunteer project, which is the largest volunteer language acquisition project in Hamburg. Through 109 conversation groups across 33 libraries, refugees and migrants are able to apply and practice their German speaking skills.

EU Programmes working with this SDG

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