European Social Fund 2014-2020

  • Education, Training, Culture and Youth
  • Employment and Social Affairs
  • Regions and Local Development
BUDGET: € 70 billion + € 3 billion for the Youth Employment Initiative

The European Social Fund (ESF) supports policies and priorities aiming to achieve progress towards full employment, enhance quality and productivity at work, increase the geographical and occupational mobility of workers within the Union, improve education and training systems, and promote social inclusion, thereby contributing to economic, social and territorial cohesion.

  • Promoting employment and supporting labour mobility;
  • Investing in education, skills and life-long learning;
  • Promoting social inclusion and combating poverty;
  • Enhancing institutional capacity and efficient public administration;
  • Supporting the shift towards low-carbon, climate resilient and resource efficient economy;
  • Enhancing the use of information and communication technologies, strengthening research;
  • Technological development and innovation and enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises.

A wide range of organisations, both from the public and private sector (from regional and local authorities, educational and training institutions, non-governmental institutions, trade unions, works councils, industry and professional associations to individual companies) can apply for funding.


Promoting employment and supporting labour mobility: 

  • Access to employment for job-seekers and inactive people, including local employment initiatives and support for labour mobility;
  • Sustainable integration of young people not in employment, education or training into the labour market;
  • Self-employment, entrepreneurship and business creation;
  • Equality between men and women and reconciliation between work and private life;
  • Adaptation of workers, enterprises and entrepreneurs to change;
  • Active and healthy ageing;
  • Modernisation and strengthening of labour market institutions, including actions to enhance transnational labour mobility.

Investing in education, skills and life-long learning: >

  • Reducing early school-leaving and promoting equal access to good- quality early-childhood, primary and secondary education;
  • Improving the quality, efficiency and openness of tertiary and equivalent education with a view to increasing participation and attainment levels;
  • Enhancing access to lifelong learning, upgrading the skills and competences of the workforce and increasing the labour market relevance of education and training systems. 3. Promoting social inclusion and combating poverty:active inclusion;
  • Integration of marginalised communities such as the Roma;
  • Combating discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation;
  • Enhancing access to affordable, sustainable and high-quality services, including health care and social services of general interest;
  • Promoting the social economy and social enterprises;
  • Community-led local development strategies.
  • Enhancing institutional capacity and efficient public administration: investment in institutional capacity and in the efficiency of public administrations and public services with a view to reforms, better regulation and good governance; 
  • Capacity building for stakeholders delivering employment, education and social policies and sectoral and territorial pacts to mobilise for reform at national, regional and local level.
  • Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient, resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable economy, through reform of education and training systems, adaptation of skills and qualifications, up-skilling of the labour force, and the creation of new jobs in sectors related to the environment and energy;
  • Enhancing the accessibility, use and quality of information and communication technologies, through the development of digital literacy, investment in e-inclusion, e-skills and related entrepreneurial skills; 
  • Strengthening research, technological development and innovation, through the development of post-graduate studies, the training of researchers, networking activities and partnerships between higher education institutions, research and technological centers and enterprises; 
  • Enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, through promoting the adaptability of enterprises and workers and increased investment in human capital.

The maximum co-financing rate for a priority axis shall be increased by ten percentage points, but not exceeding 100%, where the whole of a priority axis is dedicated to social innovation or to transnational cooperation, or a combination of both.

RESPONSIBLE BODY: DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Cron Job Starts