Τhe Equal initiative is a laboratory for new ideas to the European Employment Strategy and the social Inclusion Process. Its mission is to promote a more inclusive work life through fighting discrimination and exclusion based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. EQUAL is implemented in and between Member States and is funded through the European Social Fund.
EQUAL is part of the European Union's strategy for more and better jobs and for ensuring that no-one is denied access to them. Funded by the European Social Fund, this initiative is testing since 2001 new ways of tackling discrimination and inequality experienced by those in work and those looking for a job.
EQUAL co-finances activities in all EU Member States. The EU contribution to EQUAL of 3.274 billion EUR is matched by national funding. EQUAL differs from the European Social Fund mainstream programmes in its function as a laboratory (principle of innovation) and in its emphasis on active co-operation between Member States. Two calls for proposals for EQUAL projects in the Member States have taken place so far, the first one in 2001, the second one in 2004. Responsibility for the implementation of the Community Initiative programmes in the Member States lies with the national authorities.