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On the common road at last!
Making friends on the kick-off conference in February

The one day program-launching conference of the EQUAL program took place on the 10th February, 2005 in Budapest. Invitations were extended to the project management members of the successful development partnerships and representatives of the member organisations - one person from each organisation.

"Partnership, participation, international cooperation, innovation and thematic approach -inter alia, these are the criteria the programs meet the representatives of which are warmly welcome on the opening conference of the Hungarian EQUAL program" - underlined Mrs. Judit Rózsa Török, Director General of the Human Resources Development Operative Programme and EQUAL Programme Management Authority on the opening ceremony of the event. In a lecture following her speech, Mr. Tamás Jankó, Head of Department at the EQUAL Managing Authority stressed that "the program is in no way an end in itself, dissemination and integration into the practical operations and the mainstream of the policies of the experiences gained in the process of implementation of the activities constitute a fundamental principle of EQUAL, among others, even when in order to obtain, put into practice and transfer and dissemination of such experiences we still have a long way to go."
Afterwards the audience was given information in the form of a lecture by Ágnes Bonfig, the technical deputy director of OFA about the support agreement and the contracting procedure concerning the preparatory phase of the EQUAL Programme. Program Director Attila Balogh listed the tasks of the successful development partnerships due in the preparatory phase, and the services provided by the OFA EQUAL National programme management unit (PMU).
The Hungarian Public Treasury, as the financial contributing organisation of the EQUAL Program was also represented, providing a short summary on the concrete technical and professional areas (submission of reports, procedure for accounting, etc.), which are associated with program funding. In the final section of the conference, the successful development partnerships were given an opportunity to make personal acquaintances with the staff members of the Hungarian Public Treasury and the OFA EQUAL National programme management unit.

Further events

During the implementation period of the 2004-2006 EQUAL programme, the European Union visited Hungary in the form of a project visit for the first time. On the 15th February Katalin Somody, the staff member of the European Commission in charge of the Hungarian EQUAL Programme gained an insight into the work of a few supported programmes on some site visits. During the two days tour she got acquainted with the Debrecen project entitled "Self Reliance with Equal Opportunities-N.E.E.D.S" (coded I/2) accompanied by Gabriella Tölgyes, staff member from OFA EQUAL National PMU. The programme is implemented with the cooperation of the Hungarian refugee camps. On the second day the two officials toured the key partner of the project entitled "Receptive Budapest - Establishment and dissemination of receptive programmes at the workplace in organisations owned by the Budapest Municipality" (A/106), the Non-profit Employment Service Company of the Capital (FKFSZ).
On the 16th February, organised by the OFA EQUAL National PMU, financial managers of the successful projects participated on a meeting where they were briefed on the procedure of drawing advances and payment procedures as well as their related financial tasks.
On the 17th February, the project managers learnt about the support agreement concerning the preparatory phase of the EQUAL Program.
On the 23rd February, representatives of the development partnerships were informed about the international cooperation in connection with the EQUAL Programme. Mr. Philippe Le Guen, staff member of the French EQUAL national programme management unit reported about his experiences gained in the field of international cooperation as a part of the PHARE-financed training program entitled "Preparation for the Implementation of Community Initiative EQUAL in Hungary 2004-2006".
He demonstrated the differences among member states through examples which may appear in the preparatory process of international contracts of Hungarian partnerships.
Following this, the participants could learn the use of the EQUAL Common Database (ECDB) and the ETCIM Internet module.
On 30th March, the conclusion of the information dissemination day related to held under the titled "Project cycle management and the logical framework matrix method" was that problems need not to be articulated as a kind of scarcity, because this suggest a kind of solution and also, you had better avoid too complex problem analysis, apply objective and strategy analysis methods instead.
On the 6th April, knowledge about procurement processes was in the focus. The staff member of the Procurement Coordination and Compliance Unit of the European Union presented information among others on the tasks of the organisations granted support about procurement procedures, accountable costs and procurement scheduling.
On the 19th April, participants of the conference held with the foreign experts of the PHARE programme were given information about horizontal, inter-institutional knowledge transfer. The vertical version of such transfers was also mentioned, in other words how practical experiences may be integrated into the policies and may become decisive tools of employment or educational policies in the future.
In May, the project managers got to learn the finalised working programme concerning the project implementation through consultations (and, as an Annex to it, the EQUAL logical framework matrix), they are provided assistance to the preparation of the budget previously agreed upon, finalisation of the operation code, the preparation of the detailed terms of reference (TOR) concerning the thematic network cooperation and the completion of the progress reports and final reports.

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