EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND (ESF)
The European Social Fund (ESF), one of the European Structural and Investment Funds, aims at enhancing employment and fairer life opportunities for all. It is the European Union's main tool for helping people get a job (or a better job), integrating disadvantaged people into society and ensuring fairer life opportunities for all. It does this by investing in Europe’s people and their skills – employed and jobless, young and old.
The ESF has an overall budget of €86 billion for 2014-2020. This support is targeted towards ~15 million people each year to enter into the job market or to improve their skills to find work in future or for better social integration of certain disadvantaged individuals.
The ESF support can be provided through grants and, increasingly, through financial instruments.
In 2007-13, a total of 49 financial instruments, primarily limited to supporting SMEs, have been implemented across 7 Member States to finance ESF interventions. This modest take up indicated that ESF stakeholders lack experience using these instruments and are less used to dealing with market mechanisms, but this also implies a great potential in effectively tackling social issues using recyclable funds.
Financial instruments can contribute to the achievement of the following thematic objectives of the ESF:
- promoting employment and supporting labour mobility;
- investing in education, skills and life-long learning;
- promoting social inclusion and combating poverty; and
- enhancing institutional capacity and efficient public administration.
Financial instruments co-funded by the ESF can therefore be used to support a wide range of financially viable investment projects.
For further information, please consult the fi-compass factsheet on ESF financial instruments.
Financial Instruments under ESF funds 2014-2020
Factsheet, The European Social Fund, pdf
Manual, Ex Ante Assessment - Quick reference guide, pdf
ESF and micro-finance: New opportunities, Andrea Da Pozzo, EC and Emmanuelle Guiheneuf, EC, pdf
Implementation of Entrepreneurship Promotion Fund (EPF) in Lithuania, Žaneta Maskaliovienė, Ministry of Social Security and Labour, Lithuania and Audrius Zabotka, INVEGA, pdf