About the ESF

About the ESF
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The ESF - the EU's main tool for promoting employment in Europe

The European Social Fund (ESF) is Europe's main tool for promoting employment and social inclusion in Europe. For over 60 years, the ESF has been improving the employment opportunities of people in Germany and Europe by promoting better education, supporting training and skills development and tackling disadvantages in the labour market. This particularly benefits the unemployed, school-goers transitioning into training and work, workers and entrepreneurs.

The ESF gives people the tools to actively take control of their professional future, even if facing difficult circumstances or making a second attempt to get their career started.
The ESF places particular emphasis on the equal treatment of men and women and the prevention of discrimination of any kind. This is why the ESF specifically focuses on those at risk of exclusion from the labour market, such as disadvantaged young persons, migrants and the long-term unemployed. The aim is for everyone to have a chance on the job market. Every member state and every region develops its own individual strategy in an Operational Programme, so that local needs and requirements can be optimally addressed.

The ESF promotes practice-oriented projects whose impact is felt directly on the ground.
The ESF is not an employment agency. Rather, it funds projects geared to the labour market on a local, regional and national level. The type, aims, size and target groups of these projects vary greatly. Individuals only receive support through the various ESF funding programmes, i.e. through the selected projects or the competent institutions in the particular programme.

As a driving force for equal opportunities, the ESF makes the concept of Europe tangible for all.
The ESF is one of five European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) which have operated under a common framework since 2014 and are to pursue complementary goals. As part of European cohesion policy to deliver on the long-term growth and employment objectives ("Europe 2020 strategy"), the ESF helps bring about economic and social cohesion in Europe.

The ESF pursues the following goals in partnership with the member states of the European Union:

  • high level of employment
  • gender equality
  • sustainable development
  • economic and social cohesion in the European Union

His­to­ry of the ESF

Die Geschichte des ESF

The Eu­ro­pean So­cial Fund is now over 60 years old. He is the old­est of the struc­tural funds of the Eu­ro­pean Union.

Fund­ing pe­ri­od 2014-2020

Funding period 2014-2020

To im­ple­ment the goals Ger­many sub­mit­ted the "Ger­man Fed­er­al Op­er­a­tional Pro­gramme for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Eu­ro­pean So­cial Fund in the 2014-2020 fund­ing pe­ri­od".

ESF Points of con­tact

ESF Points of contact

Here you get in­for­ma­tion about ESF points of con­tact at fed­er­al lev­el and na­tion­al lev­el and the EU.