The European Union's budget provides important value added to the lives of its 500 million citizens. It is small (around 1% of EU gross national income) but produces concrete results on many things – including in the employment and social fields – where financing at EU level gives a better return on investment.
European Social Fund (ESF)
The ESF reaches about 10 million Europeans each year and helps 2 million citizens each year find a job. One in four people who found a job between 2000 and 2008 did so after receiving ESF training.
With EU level support, EU countries make new investments in people that would not have taken place. By spending more money in less well-off countries, the ESF helps EU countries invest much more in human capital - essential to helping them catch up to the level of the best.
Poland receives €250 of ESF funding per person for 2007-2013, compared to €50 for Denmark. Since 2000, EU countries have received €80 billion in ESF support, representing around 10% of the total budget of the EU. This is matched by more then €40 billion of national and private co-funding.
Over the period 2000-2008, the ESF supported approximately 76 million people and 1.7 million organisations. Young people make up almost a quarter of the 10 million ESF participants each year, boosting youth employment, entrepreneurship and the mobility of young workers, helping lower school drop-out rates and raising skills levels. In 2009 they were 3.1 million out of 11.0 million.
European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF)
Since its launch in 2006, the EGF has managed 77 applications from 19 countries for almost € 353 million, covering training and job-search assistance for nearly 75 000 European workers who lost their job. The EGF provides funding for measures that go beyond the obligations of a company following large scale redundancies and in 2009 over 40 % of those trained through EGF support found employment.
With the new PROGRESS microfinance facility , EU funding leverages financing from international financial institutions, extending micro-financing to at-risk groups and developing entrepreneurship, the social economy and micro-enterprises across the EU. Until the end of 2013, the Union contribution to the Microfinance Facility is €100 million (2010-2013). The Commission estimates that it could be leveraged to €500 million in micro-credits by bringing in other international financial institutions like the European Investment Fund (EIF).
Economic and financial crisis
In response to the economic crisis, additional advance EU funded payments provided an immediate cash injection of €6.25 billion in 2009 (€1.76 billion for ESF and €4.5 billion for ERDF) so more money could be spent rapidly on EU countries' priority projects, helping SMEs and refocusing support on the most vulnerable .