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A new, stronger European Social Fund Plus

The European Social Fund Plus, part of the EU’s budget from 2021-2027, will be the main financial instrument to strengthen Europe’s social dimension, by putting the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights into practice.

ESF 60 years It is the new 'simpler but stronger’ version of the existing European Social Fund.

ESF+ resources will be allocated to key political priorities and citizens’ concerns:

  • ESF+ programmes and projects will have to concentrate on related challenges identified under the European Semester
  • Member States with a substantial number of young people not in employment, education or training will have to dedicate at least 10% of the ESF+ funding to measures in support of youth employment and activation of young people
  • Member States should allocate at least 25% of ESF+ funding to measures fostering social inclusion and targeting those most in need
  • A target of 4% is also set for supporting the most vulnerable.

ESF+ will be more coherent with and complementary to other Funds that provide support to people, such as Erasmus, the Asylum and Migration Fund, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and the Reform Support Programme

Structure and budget

The Commission is proposing a total budget of €101 billion in current prices for the period 2021–2027. The European Social Fund Plus is the result of a merging of the existing European Social Fund, the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the Fund for Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) and the EU Health programme.

The different components will be broken down as follows:

  • The European Social Fund Plus will have a total budget of €101 billion, mostly operated in shared management with Member States
  • The Employment and Social Innovation strand (€761 million) and the Health strand (€413 million) will have €1,2 billion in total, and be implemented in direct management by the Commission

Legislative process

The proposal has been voted on by the Employment Committee at the European Parliament. It will be reviewed by the Council of the EU.

View more information on the Employment Committee Vote

Find out more