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ESF+ in partnership

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Member States will use the ESF+ to tackle the socio-economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund will support the EU’s green, digital and resilient recovery from the crisis by driving investment in jobs, skills and services.

The bulk of the ESF+ budget (€ 98.5 billion out of the total of more than € 99 billion) is designed and implemented in partnership between  the European Commission, national and regional authorities and social partners and stakeholders with an approach of "shared management".

The European Social Fund Plus is closely aligned to the recommendations and country analyses provided under the European Semester – the framework for coordinating economic and social policies across the European Union. The ESF+ finances the implementation of the European Pillar for Social Rights – a key element of the European Semester – through actions in the areas of employment, education & skills and social inclusion.

Thematic concentrations

Under thematic concentrations, the EU is able to target specific, EU-wide needs. Resources under shared management can then be concentrated under these areas.

  • Social inequalities and poverty remain a major concern. Member States should therefore allocate at least 25% of their ESF+ resources to promote social inclusion. In addition, the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) has been integrated in the ESF+ to provide food and basic material assistance. All Member States are obligated to devote at least 3% of their ESF+ resources to this aim.
  • Youth unemployment has remained persistently high since the 2008 economic crisis, further increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic. All Member States must allocate an appropriate amount of their ESF+ resources under shared management to targeted actions and structural reforms in support of youth employment. Member States above the EU-average rate of young people aged 15 to 29 not in employment, education or training (NEETs) for the years 2017-2019 should devote at least 12.5% of their ESF+ resources to youth.
  • Child-poverty levels remain unacceptably high, further rising as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The ESF+ requires Member States most affected by child poverty to allocate at least 5% of their ESF+ resources to implement measures to reduce it. All other Member States must allocate an appropriate amount to this end.
  • The capacity of social partners and civil society is central to the successful implementation of the ESF+ and the policies the Fund supports. All Member States should allocate an appropriate amount to the capacity building of social partners and civil society. Member States that have a European Semester country-specific recommendation (CSR) in this area should allocate at least 0.25% of their ESF+ resources under shared management to this aim.

Member States will use the ESF+ to tackle the socio-economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund will support the EU’s green, digital and resilient recovery from the crisis by driving investment in jobs, skills and services.