European Social Fund

The European Social Fund ( ESF ) is the European Union ‘s main financial instrument for Supporting Employment in the member states of the European Union as well as Promoting economic and social cohesion. ESF spending amounts to around 10% of the EU’s total budget.

The ESF is one of the European Structural and Investment Funds ( ESIF ), which is an integral part of the Union. Cohesion within Europe by concentrating spending on the less developed regions.

The peculiar nature of ESF spending is to support the creation of more and better jobs in the EU, which it does by co-funding national, regional and local projects that improve the levels of employment, and the inclusiveness of Labor market in the Member States and their regions.


The European Social Fund was created in the founding Treaty of Rome in 1957. [1] It is the oldest of the Structural Funds . It was established as a remedial instrument against the end of nationalist protectionism due to the advent of the European Economic Community . [2]

As of 2015, the main goal is to foster employment, reduce social exclusion and invest in skills. [3] In some EU countries it also supports administrative reform.

The role of the ESF in EU policies and strategies

The overarching strategy of the European Union is the Europe 2020 strategy, which aims to promote “smart, sustainable, inclusive growth” with greater coordination of national and European policies. In 2010 this succeeded the Lisbon Agenda, which aims to make Europe the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth and social cohesion, and respect for the environment, by 2010. The Objectives of the ESF.

In the light of the need to increase competitiveness and employment against a background of globalization and aging populations, the European Employment Strategy [4] provides a coordinating framework for the Member States to agree common priorities and goals in the field of employment. These common priorities are then taken up in the Employment Guidelines [5] and incorporated into the National Reform Programs [6] prepared by the individual Member States. ESF funding is deployed by the Member States in support of their National Reform Programs as well as their National Strategic Reference Frameworks (NSRF).

The European Social Agenda [7] also plays a role in shaping the priorities of ESF spending. Social Patterns and Social Patterns of the Social Patterns of the Social Patterns of the Social Patterns of the United States of America. In addition, the concept of ‘ flexicurity ‘ contributes to current ESF initiatives. Flexicurity can be defined as a policy strategy to enhance the flexibility of labor markets, work organizations and labor relations on the other hand. [8] The term flexicurity encompasses a new approach to employment involving ‘work for life’ rather than ‘job for life’ model of the past. It encourages workers to take charge of their lives through lifelong training, adapting to change and mobility.

Strategy definition

The ESF is managed through seven-year programming cycles. The ESF strategy and budget is Negotiated entre les EU Member States , the European Parliament and the EU Commission . The strategy defines the objectives of ESF funding, which it shares partly or wholly with other structural funding. For the current ESF funding cycle these objectives are:

  1. The regional competitiveness and employment objective : to reinforce regional competitiveness, employment and attractiveness for investment.
  2. The convergence objective : to stimulate growth and employment in the least developed regions. This objective receives more than 80% of total ESF funding.

The strategy also lays down the priority axes – the actions required to achieve the.

Funds allocation

The level of ESF funding differs from one region to another depending on their relative wealth. GDP per capita compared to the EU average (EU with 25 or 15 Member States) and split between the two objectives.

Convergence objective includes:

  • Convergence regions: with a GDP per capita of less than 75% of the EU-25 average;
  • Phasing-out regions: with a GDP per capita of more than 75% of the EU-25 average but less than 75% of the EU-15 average.

The regional competitiveness and employment objective includes:

  • Phasing-in regions: with a GDP per capita of less than 75% of the EU-15 average (in the period 2007-2013);
  • Competitiveness and employment.

In convergence regions, ESF co-financing of projects can reach 85% of total costs. In regional competitiveness and employment regions, 50% co-financing is more common. For the richer Member States and regions,. For less-wealthy Member States, ESF funding can be the source of funds for employment-related initiatives. The eligible regions for the current ESF programming round (2007-2013) are shown on the map.

While the allocation of funds to poorer regions intends to work towards the objective of convergence between regions (ie inter-regional equality), research has suggested that the funds may amplify intra-regional inequalities with Municipalities within. One explanation may be found in the co-financing procedures with poorer potential applicants. Another issue with allocation has been that project applications have been rejected purely on minor administrative issues. This paper describes the use of the ” And corruption in the selection process. [9]


While the EU is in the process of adopting the EU budget, Once the strategy and budget allocation have been agreed, a shared approach to programming is taken. Seven-year Operational Programs are planned by Member States and their regions together with the European Commission. These Operational Programs describe the fields of activity that will be funded, which can be geographical or thematic.

The Member States designate national ESF management authorities that are responsible for selecting projects, disbursing funds, and evaluating the progress and results of projects. Certification and auditing authorities are also responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the ESF regulation.

Until 2007, approximately 5% of ESF funds were allocated to ‘Community Initiatives’ to support transnational and innovative actions. (ADAPT), the European Union (EU) and the European Union (EU). The most recent of these, the EQUAL Community Initiative , saw in the admission of 10 new Member States in 2004 but ended in 2008.

ESF projects

The implementation of the ESF on the basis of a wide range of organizations, both in the public and private sectors. These include national, regional and local authorities, educational and training institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the voluntary sector, as well as social partners, for example, trade unions and works councils, industry and professional associations.

The beneficiaries of ESF projects are varied, for example, individual workers, groups of people, industrial sectors, trades unions, public administrations or individual. Vulnerable groups of people who have particular difficulty in finding work or getting on their jobs, such as the long-term unemployed and women, are a particular target group. As an indication, it is estimated that over 9 million individuals from these vulnerable groups are helped each year through ESF projects – see chart 1.

The European Social Fund 2007-2013

The last programming cycle of the ESF ran from 2007 to 2013 under the banner ‘Investing in People’. Over this period, it invested around € 75 billion – close to 10% of the EU budget – on employment-enhancing projects. Funding was given to six specific priority areas:

  • Improving human capital (34% of total funding)
  • Improving access to employment and sustainability (30%)
  • Increasing the adaptability of workers, firms and enterprises (18%)
  • Improving social inclusion of less-favored persons (14%)
  • Strengthening institutional capacity at national, regional and local levels (3%)
  • Mobilization for reforms in the fields of employment and inclusion (1%)

In any given region, the actual distribution of funds varied to reflect local and regional priorities. All six priorities were applicable to both the convergence and regional competitiveness and employment objectives; However, convergence would normally place an emphasis on the ‘improving human capital’ priority.


  1. Jump up^ Brine, Jacky (2002). The European Social Fund and the EU: Flexibility, Growth, Stability . London: Sheffield Academic Press. p. 25. ISBN  9781841271286 . OCLC  59470598 .
  2. Jump up^ Munzi, Ugo (1965). “The European Social Fund in the Development of the Mediterranean Regions of the EEC”. Journal of International Affairs . 19 (2): 286-296. JSTOR  24363303 . (Registration required ( help )) .
  3. Jump up^ “England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds” . Government of the United Kingdom . July 16, 2015 . Retrieved September 19, 2016 .
  4. Jump up^ European Employment Strategyretrieved on 2008-10-14
  5. Jump up^ Employment Guidelinesretrieved on 2008-10-12
  6. Jump up^ [1]National Reform Programs retrieved on 2016-07-13
  7. Jump up^ Social Agendaretrieved on 2008-10-12
  8. Jump up^ Flexicurityretrieved on 2008-10-16
  9. Jump up^ Dubois & Fattore, HFW (26 July 2011). “Public fund assignment through project evaluation” . Regional and Federal Studies . Doi: 10.1080 / 13597566.2011.578827 . Retrieved 5 March 2016 .

Start a Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *