ESF Plus: Funding Period 2021-2027

The European Social Fund (ESF) will continue to be the EU ’s most important funding instrument for investment in people as “ESF Plus”.

Logos of the german funding period ESF Plus

The main objective of the ESF Plus is to contribute to a more social Europe and to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights into practice. The ESF is investing locally in measures to help people cope with economic and social challenges.

ESF-funded measures always address key socio-economic challenges in the Member States and regions, while also reflecting the development of the European Union’s employment and social agenda.

In the 2021-2027 funding period, the new ESF+ will focus even more on the idea of a more social Europe, bringing together the previous ESF, the previous European Aid Fund for the Most Deprived (FEAD), the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) under one roof.

In terms of content, the ESF Plus should in particular support:

  • improved access to employment, education and training;
  • active inclusion,
  • the socio-economic integration of third-country nationals;
  • equal access to high-quality social protection systems;
  • the social integration of disadvantaged people
  • and basic material assistance for the most disadvantaged.

ESF Plus funding must also be thematically concentrated at Member State level. In particular, the funds will be used to address the challenges of the “Country-Specific Recommendations (CSR)”, “Social Inclusion” and the most disadvantaged people (= ex-FEAD (European Aid Fund for the Most Deprived)), combating child poverty, promoting young people and building capacity among social partners and civil society organisations.

In order to achieve the objectives, Germany presented an ESF Plus Federal Programme 2021-2027, which was approved by the European Commission on 5 May 2022.

In Germany, the Federal Government and the Federal States will receive a total of around 6.56 billion euros from the ESF Plus over seven years. Of this, around 2.2 billion euros will flow into the ESF Plus Federal Programme and around 4.36 billion euros into the ESF Plus activities of the Federal States.