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News | 2021-12-06

ESF+ projects celebrated at 2021 RegioStars

regiostars logo with hashtags
(c) European Union

Much-needed healthy, affordable food for disadvantaged people.  A lifeline for special needs students to attend mainstream classes.  Support for social housing users to find their way back to the wider community.  What do these projects have in common?  They’re a few of the European Social Fund (ESF) projects honoured at this year’s talent-packed RegioStars Awards!

Since 2008, the Regiostars competition has showcased some of the most courageous, effective and inspiring projects made possible through EU funding.  Choosing from hundreds of ambitious projects – each one having made a dramatic impact on their communities – winners are awarded to celebrate excellent work undertaken in the following five categories: smart Europe, green Europe, Fair Europe, Urban Europe and a topic specially chosen for each year’s competition. 

This year’s awards ceremony on 2 December 2021 brought particularly good news for projects financed by the European Social Fund - who were winners of both the jury and public choice award - with three more honoured among the 25 finalists!


ESF RegioStars winners

Travelling Solidarity Cannery – Jury Winner 'Urban Europe'

This is a social innovation system for training people in Belgium’s Walloon Region in fruit and vegetable processing, conservation and packaging techniques. It supports the growth of economic initiatives centred on production, distribution and marketing of local and seasonal products, as well as the use of unsold supermarket food and surplus from harvests. These initiatives create non-relocatable jobs within a sustainable local economy, prevent waste and provide healthy, affordable food for disadvantaged people all year round.

Read the full story!

Check out the project video!

Baltazar – Public Choice Award Winner 'Fair Europe'

This Croatian project has been able to help children with special needs in a way that is nothing short of inspirational – giving nearly 200 students the chance to attend primary and secondary classes.

Read the full story!

Check out the project video


Spotlight on finalists!

I am your neigbour.  Do not sort me – 'Fair Europe'

Implemented across all 60 Lithuanian municipalities, this project dispelled in a powerful way stereotypes about beneficiaries of social housing among municipal officials and the public. 

Read the full story, and check out the project video!


Empowering the disabled and their carers – 'Fair Europe'

People with disabilities have become more independent and a greater part of their communities in the districts of Polkowice and Legnica, Lower Silesia, Poland. With the help of this EU-funded project, personal assistance services have become more widely available to those who depend on them. At the same time, the situation of caretakers has been improved.

Read the full article, and check out the project video!


Digital Farming Specialist – 'Urban Europe'

Digital farming enhances agricultural productivity, cost-effectiveness and sustainability. However, the sector lacks skilled people to manage and operate such technologies and help farmers use them. Implemented in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, the Digital Farming Specialist project created a programme that trained technicians to fill this gap.

Read the full article, and check out the project video!


This year’s competition was extremely competitive – 214 projects applied to take part.  This level of participation highlights how EU funding is continuing to grow our capacity to build a greener, fairer and more competitive Europe. 

Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, said, ‘Congratulations to all the winners, they are role models for anyone that wishes to better the life of people with the use of EU funds. I hope they will inspire many others across the continent and I encourage regions, cities and any other stakeholders to make the most of the opportunities that cohesion policy puts forward.’