EU budget: a new European Social Fund Plus

For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission proposes to further strengthen the Union’s social dimension with a new and improved European Social Fund, the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and a more effective European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF).

The ESF+ Regulation will integrate the current ESF, YEI, FEAD, EaSI and the EU Health programme, with ESF being complementary to other funds (such as the EGF, Erasmus, AMIF, ERDF, RSP, InvestEU). 

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: “Europe wants to empower people. We put our money where our mouth is. Our new, flexible and simplified social funds are focused on investing in people: to make sure they have the right skills, to make sure they have modern social protection adapted to new forms of work, and to show solidarity with those who need it most." 

European Social Fund Plus

The European Social Fund Plus will be a more flexible and simpler version of the current European Social Fund by merging a number of existing funds and programmes. Pooling resources will allow the EU and Member States to provide more integrated and targeted support in response to the social and labour market challenges that people in Europe face today.

Specifically, the European Social Fund Plus will merge the:

The ESF+ Regulation will aim to ensure that resources under the shared management strand focus on the key challenges identified, in particular:

  • It will support the principles of the European pillar of social rights and the implementation of recommendations under the European Semester.
    The ESF+ will continue to tackle unemployment, poverty and exclusion, by supporting job seekers, the poor, marginalised and deprived people. The ESF+ will also remain the main EU instrument investing in policy and systems reforms to enhance the skills and education levels of people, including digital skills that would equip them for the changing labour market.
  • It will provide a helping hand to youth
    Member States with a NEET rate above the Union average in 2019 will be required to dedicate at least 10% of ESF+ allocations under shared management to targeted action and structural reforms to support youth employment. This aims to ensure that Member States facing challenges in this policy area programme allocate an adequate share of ESF resources to support vulnerable young people who need assistance. Additional support in this area will be provided to outermost regions and sparsely populated areas.
  • It will foster social inclusion
    The regulation will require that at least 25% of the ESF+ shared management strand be allocated to fostering social inclusion. This will promote the social dimension of Europe as set out in the Pillar, ensuring that a minimum amount of resources is targeting those most in need, and providing material support to those most in need suffering from material deprivation.
  • It will support Union actions for social innovation, mobility and health
    The direct and indirect management strands on Employment and Social Innovation and Health will provide the means to test innovative solutions, support labour mobility in Europe and help modernise health systems in Member States.
  • It will be simpler
    Fund programming and management will be made simpler to reduce the administrative burden on national authorities or organisations benefiting from ESF+ measures.




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