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Simplified Cost Options Under the ESF: The Option of the Delegated Act

Given the importance of simplified cost options (SCOs) for operations funded under the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), additional rules have been introduced in Article 14 of the ESF Regulation.

Article 14(1) of the ESF Regulation empowers the Commission to prepare and adopt a delegated act defining standard scales of unit costs and lump sums based on data submitted by the Member States. These SCOs are different from the ‘classical’ simplified costs under Article 67 of the CPR, as they are used by the Commission for reimbursement of expenditure to Member States and Member States may apply different arrangements with their beneficiaries. 

What are the advantages of Article 14(1) ESF?

In addition to all the advantages usually provided by SCOs, Article 14(1) of the ESF regulation:

  • makes it possible to apply standard scales of unit costs and lump sums to more operations (even to those which have been 100% publicly procured);
  • reduces the scope of control and audit to the activity/output/result on the basis of which the unit cost or lump sum was calculated;
  • allows Member States to continue to use their own accounting practices to support operations on the ground;
  • allows the Commission to develop off-the-shelf EU-level unit costs which can be applied by any Member State without having to submit its own calculation method.

Above all, it provides legal certainty on the methodology used to calculate unit costs or lump sums and the amounts.

Further background information on this type of simplified cost options highlighting the advantages of Article 14(1) and when it can be used, can be found in this document:

Guidance on standard scales of unit costs and lump sums adopted under Article 14(1) Reg. (EU)1304/2013

EU-level SCOs

In addition to the SCOs proposed by the Member States based on their own data and adopted by the European Commission in the delegated act, the Commission has also adopted a set of SCOs that can be directly applied by Member States.

Currently, EU-level SCOs are in force covering four areas:


Unit costs for participation in an academic year of formal education (from early childhood education to tertiary level including formal vocational education).

Training for the unemployed:

Unit costs for participants who successfully complete a non-formal training course.

Counselling services:

Unit costs for staff of the Public Employment Service or other public/private bodies providing employment-related counselling services (hourly, monthly and annual amounts).

Training for employed persons:

Unit costs for training provided in-house or by an external company (hourly amounts per participant).

For each area, different amounts have been established per Member State.

More information on EU-level SCOs can be found in the study “Developing ‘Off-the-Shelf’ Simplified Cost Options (SCOs) under Article 14.1 of the European Social Fund (ESF) regulation” and in the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/2170.

For a full list of all the SCOs adopted by the European Commission in the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2195 and its subsequent amendments, see here.