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ESF - European Social Fund

Investing in people

The ESF is Europe’s main tool for promoting employment and social inclusion – 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.

Every year, the Fund helps some 15 million people into work, or to improve their skills to find work in future.

This is important:

  • in the short term – to mitigate the consequences of the current economic crisis, especially the rise in unemployment and poverty levels;
  • in the longer term – as part of Europe’s strategy to remodel its economy, creating not just jobs, but an inclusive society.

Funding & objectives in 2014-20

In this period, the ESF will provide some €80 billion (in current prices) in funding to:

More on ESF objectives for 2014-20

Who does what?

The ESF strategy and budget are negotiated and decided on jointly by EU governments, the European Parliament and the Commission.

Its 7-year operational programmes are planned by governments and approved by the European Commission.

Funding is given to a wide range of organisations – public bodies, private companies and civil society – which give people practical help to find a job, or stay in their job.

More about the ESF