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European Social Fund (ESF) (ESF+) - (European Structural and Investment Funds)

Target group
Government, Cities, Communities & NGOs
Type of funding
Project type
Research, Innovation, Growth
Social Sciences and Humanities, Society
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For Flanders please also refer to 'ESF Vlaanderen' for more information: https://www.vlaanderen.be/europawse

Check VLEVA funding guide for more details
Info last updated 8 months ago


National sectoral or regionalised programmes to support the improving of employment and social inclusion


The total financial envelope for the ESF+ for the period 2021-2027 will be 87.995 billion euro. For 2014 - 2020 it was a Global budget: 84 billion euro - 10 billion euro/year

Official information source





European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)

Over half of EU funding is channelled through the 5 European structural and investment funds (ESIF). They are jointly managed by the European Commission and the EU countries. The purpose of all these funds is to invest in job creation and a sustainable and healthy European economy and environment. 


Latest info from July 21st 2020


The ESF+ will provide comprehensive support to youth employment, up- and re-skilling of workers, social inclusion and poverty reduction, including child poverty, by merging existing programmes: the European Social Fund, the Youth Employment Initiative, the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived and the Employment and Social Innovation programme. The total financial envelope for the ESF+ for the period 2021-2027 will be EUR 87 995 million, of which: • EUR 676 million for the ESF+ strand under direct and indirect management; • EUR 87 319 million for the ESF+ strand under shared management under the Investment for Jobs and Growth goal. The shared management strand will remain under a sub-heading together with the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund.


With regard to the ESF+ resources under shared management each Member State shall allocate: 

  • a) at least 25% to the specific objectives for the social inclusion, including integration of migrants;
  • b) at least 2% to the specific objective addressing material deprivation;
  • c) at least 10% to targeted actions for young people not in employment (NEET) in the case of having a rate of NEET above the EU average


European Social Fund (ESF)

Global budget: 84 billion euro

grants in the framework of national sectoral or regionalised programmes to support the improving of employment and social inclusion. (cohesiondata)


The ESF is Europe’s main instrument for supporting jobs, helping people get better jobs and ensuring fairer job opportunities for all EU citizens. It works by investing in Europe’s human capital – its workers, its young people and all those seeking a job. ESF financing of EUR 10 billion a year is improving job prospects for millions of Europeans, in particular those who find it difficult to get work.


The European Union is committed to creating more and better jobs and a socially inclusive society. These goals are at the core of the Europe 2020 strategy for generating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU. The current economic crisis is making this an even more demanding challenge. The ESF is playing an important role in meeting Europe’s goals, and in mitigating the consequences of the economic crisis – especially the rise in unemployment and poverty levels.


Setting priorities

The European Commission and EU countries in partnership set the ESF’s priorities and how it spends its resources. One priority is to boost the adaptability of workers with new skills, and enterprises with new ways of working. Other priorities focus on improving access to employment: by helping young people make the transition from school to work, or training less-skilled job-seekers to improve their job prospects. Indeed, vocational training and lifelong learning opportunities to give people new skills form a large part of many ESF projects.


Another priority focuses on helping people from disadvantaged groups to get jobs. This is part of enhancing ‘social inclusion’ – a sign of the important role that employment plays in helping people integrate better into society and everyday life. The financial crisis has led to a redoubling of efforts to keep people in work, or help them return to work quickly if they lose their jobs.


Projects for people

The ESF is not an employment agency – it does not advertise jobs. Rather, it is funding tens of thousands of local, regional and national employment-related projects throughout Europe: from small projects run by neighbourhood charities to help local disabled people find suitable work, to nationwide projects that promote vocational training among the whole population.

There is a great variety in the nature, size and aims of ESF projects, and they address a wide variety of target groups. There are projects aimed at education systems, teachers and schoolchildren; at young and older job-seekers; and at potential entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. People are the focus of the ESF.

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