Shared management allows for responsibility to rest at the appropriate level and thus enables funding to better support ESF+ objectives. Along with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund (CF) and the Just Transition Fund (JTF), the ESF+ is an integral facet of EU cohesion policy.
How shared management works
Shared management means that the responsibility for ESF+ management lies with both the Commission and Member States.
At the beginning of each seven-year programming period, the Commission and Member States agree on key priorities for ESF+ investment, which are set out in national or regional programmes. For example, a Member State and the Commission may agree that there needs to be further focus on youth unemployment or improving the state’s education system.
Once the programmes are agreed, Member States are responsible for implementing the planned actions – including selecting concrete projects for funding and paying project organisers. Member States allocate funding to a wide range of organisations – public bodies, private companies and civil society. The Commission monitors implementation, reimburses expenditure and is ultimately accountable for the budget.
Importantly, shared management works under the partnership principle, where partners and stakeholders should be associated at all stages from programming to implementation, monitoring and evaluation. This principle is key for ensuring that spending is as effective and efficient as possible.
A key principle of ESF+ shared management, co-financing allows that both the EU and a Member State’s budget contribute to the total budget of an ESF+ programme. Depending on the area of investment and the development level of the region in which the activities are taking place, the EU co- financing rate can vary between 50% and 95%.