Slowly but surely European citizens are becoming more familiar with the European Social Fund (ESF) and its work. The 2013 Eurobarometer survey on the social climate in Europe confirms this growing awareness. When asked if they had heard of the ESF 44 % of the respondents replied yes, up from 33 % in 2006.
Poland has the highest proportion of people who have heard of the Fund and know what it does (25 %), closely followed by Portugal, Spain and Ireland (all above 20 %). The EU-wide figure is 15 % among Europeans as a whole, whereas some 29 % of those questioned say they have heard about the ESF, but are unclear about the details of what it does. Those who say they have never heard of the ESF amount to 55 % of the replies.
The significant finding of this special Eurobarometer is its recording of the persistent steady growth in awareness among EU citizens of the nature and work of the ESF. Only in two countries, Finland and Slovakia, has awareness dropped since 2006, although both have recorded increases since the last survey in 2010. In detail, of the 28 member states, 10 show some decline in knowledge of the ESF relative to the last 2010 survey, the remainder show some marked increases, with Bulgaria out in front at 16 % followed by Germany on 10 %. There are six countries where more people have heard of the ESF than not.
The observed increasing awareness of the ESF may in part be due to the higher profile of employment-boosting measures during the current crisis. However, a contributing factor is the work carried out by national and regional bodies, and on beneficiaries, to communicate more about the work and achievements of the ESF to the general public.