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European Social Fund Plus

What is ESF+?

The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) is the European Union (EU)’s main instrument for investing in people and supporting the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. With a budget of €142.7 billion for the period 2021-2027, the ESF+ will continue to provide an important contribution to the EU’s employment, social, education and skills policies, including structural reforms in these areas.

The Fund will also be one of the cornerstones of EU socio-economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has reversed gains in labour participation, challenged educational and health systems and increased inequalities. The ESF+ will be one of the key EU instruments helping Member States to address these challenges.

As part of cohesion policy, the ESF+ will also continue its mission to support economic, territorial and social cohesion in the EU – reducing disparities between Member States and regions.

ESF+: a combination of four funds

The ESF+ brings together four funding instruments that were separate in the programming period 2014-20: the European Social Fund (ESF), the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD) the Youth Employment Initiative and the European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

How the ESF+ will provide support

Support under the ESF+ is mainly managed by Member States, with the Commission playing a supervisory role. Funding therefore takes place through:

Turning the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights into reality

The 20 principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights are the beacon guiding us towards a strong social Europe that is fair, inclusive and full of opportunity.  They are clearly connected to the ESF+ through its main objectives.