Development partnerships were the chief delivery mechanism of the EQUAL programme. They were the vehicles which received the funding and implemented the projects. The idea was thus that EQUAL would make a permanent mark in the form of institutions that have the capacity, in terms of ideas and relationships with other bodies, to improve Europe's employment and social performance.
They were conceived as structures which would:
- focus on results
- cross institutional sectors, bringing together for instance local authorities, colleges, trade unions, employers and local development associations
- outlast EQUAL funding and become quasi-permanent tools for mainstreaming
- thus result in a permanent increase in institutional capacity
These "DPs" were national, and as a condition of EQUAL funding madetransnational partnership agreements ("TCAs") with DPs in other countries. EQUAL supported some 3,200 development partnerships, 1,500 in its first round and a further 1,800 in its second round. Of these, something over 600 were in the entrepreneruship pillar (approximately 200 in theme C, business creation and 400 in theme D, social economy).
Two years after the end of EQUAL some capacity-building effect can be observed, but it would be an optimist who claimed that the development partnership idea had revolutionised Europe's capacity for social innovation.
Archived database of the 3,178 EQUAL development partnerships: http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/ECDB/equal/jsp/index.htm