The year 2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the European Social Fund (ESF), Europe's oldest and main instrument to invest in people.
Today it is an important driver of job creation, promoting better education, more modern public administrations and social inclusion, and therefore a key tool to ensure fairer opportunities for all citizens.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said: "The 60th anniversary of the European Social Fund is a true reason to celebrate. Throughout six decades, the European Social Fund has helped millions of job seekers and employees and has supported hundreds of thousands of companies and start-ups. By investing directly in people, we help to make sure that nobody is left behind, while boosting Europe's competitiveness and keeping pace with the changing world of work. 60 years of success stories showing that the European Union is making a real difference in the lives of Europeans: today, in the past and in the future."
In the past 60 years, the European Social Fund has helped millions of Europeans find a job, gain a qualification or certificate and increase their skills levels. These outcomes are achieved through many thousands of projects carried out everywhere in Europe.
Examples include projects that aim at:
Our work doesn't stop there. Also in the period 2014-2020 millions of people have benefitted and will benefit from the Fund, thanks to investments from the EU budget of €86.4 billion. During this programming period, the ESF focusses on a limited number of piorities to ensure maximum impact, with an emphasis on youth employment and social inclusion. The online Open Data Platform which gives access to data on achievements under the European Structural and Investment Funds for 2014-2020, shows that ESF projects are making very good progress: over 30% of projects have already been selected for funding. The projects under the Youth Employment Initiative even show a 60% implementation rate.
Celebrations of the Fund's achievements and debates on the future of human capital funding in Europe will kick off tomorrow with the conference "European Social Fund: past, present and future", hosted by the Maltese Presidency of the EU, ahead of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome and the meeting with the EU Social Partners in Rome which will be attended by President Juncker, Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen. Throughout the year, Member States are organising similar events and debates to look back at what the ESF has achieved, to take stock of the performance of the Fund and to make the case for strong investment in human capital in the future. During the month of May, thousands of EU-funded projects will open their doors to the public in the frame of the Europe in my Region campaign.