The European Social Fund Plus

The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) is the European Union’s main instrument for investing in people. With a budget of almost EUR 99.3 billion for the period of 2021-2027, the ESF+ will provide an important contribution to the EU’s employment, social, education and skills policies, including structural reforms in these areas. 

The European Commission adopted its new ESF+ Regulation (regulation EU 2021/1057) on 30 June 2021. The new 'simpler but stronger’ version of the existing European Social Fund will concentrate on the challenges identified under the European Semester, in particular in order to meet social and employment challenges following the COVID-19 outbreak and with a strengthened focus on social innovation. The COVID-19 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.

ESF+ brings together four funding instruments, originally separated in the 2014-2020 programing period including: 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).

ESF+ will aim to strengthen Europe’s social dimension, by putting the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights into practice through 11 specific objectives.

A more social Europe

The European Commission’s support in the social economy sphere has been stepped up recently, with the adoption of the Social Economy Action Plan. It aims to help the European social economy thrive, tapping into its economic and job-creation potential, as well as its contribution to a fair and inclusive recovery, and the green and digital transitions.

For further information about ESF+, please visit the ESF+ website.

For preliminary information about financial instruments under the ESF, please consult the fi-compass factsheet on ESF financial instruments.

Relevant resources

ESF logo  Studies, factsheets and brochures

ESF logo  Case studies

ESF logo  Manuals and Handbooks

ESF logo  Events