High-quality job creation from EU funding programmes

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Following the 2008 global economic crisis, job creation has been a key focus of recovery. The EU budget funds several initiatives that support the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs in the current decade. Initiatives include the Horizon 2020 programme, which is managed directly by the European Commission, and financial instruments such as the European Social Fund, where management is shared between the European Commission and Member States.

These programmes and instruments have different abilities and show various levels of performance in creating high-quality jobs and improving quality of employment.


The European Parliament commissioned RAND Europe to analyse the EU funding programmes' potential to create high-quality jobs. The study assessed how job creation and quality can be measured in the EU funding framework and identified the key characteristics for guaranteed success in creating high-quality jobs. The results were shared with the European Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control to inform efficient EU expenditure and management of EU finances.


The study will employ document and literature reviews, and stakeholder interviews.


EU funds can support job creation and job quality in diverse ways by:

  • Helping to maintain and create jobs in business and academia through H2020
  • Bringing people to education or employment and helping them gain necessary qualifications and skills through ESF
  • Ensuring the quality of an employment offer which is at the heart of intervention by the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI)
  • Using the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to reintegrate redundant workers into sustainable employment.

Evidence on job creation varies across the EU funding programmes: only H2020 demonstrated strong evidence for job creation. The other programmes were limited by a lack of evidence from impact evaluations that support claims about their effectiveness.

For job quality, there is almost no evidence from studies at EU level but for many EU funds rich data can be found at national and regional levels. The existing data focus on different aspects of job quality and draws on various methodologies. Most often the evidence available focuses on job prospects and earnings.

Measuring and estimating job creation and job quality come with challenges. With diverse frameworks, indicators and indices available, existing attempts to capture job quality in the EU funds can be considered modest at best. Assessments of efficiency, particularly in relation to employment results and quality employment, are limited by data availability and quality.


Job quality could be better embedded in the founding regulations of the EU funds. There are various options available for each level of ambition:

  • Low: Acknowledge the importance of employment/job quality in the founding regulations and encourage examining these aspects against the evaluation criteria.
  • Moderate: Emphasise the importance of employment/job quality in the founding regulations and provide non-binding guidelines and recommendations for funds / programme managers on how to assess employment/job quality.
  • High: Introduce provisions similar to those on the quality of job offer in the YEI that require periodic assessments and reporting in relation to employment/job quality.

The European Parliament would benefit from more robust evidence on the effect EU funds have on employment. Further exploration of the feasibility of EU-level counterfactual impact evaluations (CIE) or meta-reviews of CIE studies carried out at national and regional levels would provide this.

Measuring job creation and job quality still comes with conceptual, methodological and practical challenges. More consistency across the dimensions of job quality explored is needed and further efforts to address current data limitations should be encouraged.