European social fund

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European social fund
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The European Social Fund (ESF) - was established in 1957 as the first of the structural funds under the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC). Its main task is to combat unemployment and increase occupational and geographical mobility among employees as well as adaptation to industrial changes through training and professional development.


ESF is administered by the European Commission. It supports activities aimed at preventing unemployment and combating long-term unemployment, focusing in particular on helping people under the age of 25 or those affected by structural changes. The ESF promotes the development of human resources potential, as well as the activation of women in the labor market and equality. It also focuses on promoting harmonious and sustainable growth as well as economic and social cohesion. The ESF strategy is based on the 4th pillars and contains recommendations for each member country.

The goal of supporting structures and systems is to raise employment effectiveness, strengthen and create new links between business and educational centers, develop technological potential as well as support employers and SMEs.

Implementation of the ESF

The ESF concept is defined at the EU level, but the Member States and their regions decide personally about the implementation of ESF measures. Once the strategy and the distribution of these funds from the available budget has been agreed, joint programming appears. All Member States, with regions and the European Commission, are working on seven-year operational strategies. These programs illustrate the geographic or thematic area of activities that will be financed.

Member States choose national institutions that manage the ESF and are responsible for the selection of projects, remuneration of funds, opinion of development and project results. These countries also designate monitoring and control cells, which include monitoring and checking the correctness of expenditure with ESF-related regulations.

ESF pillars

The five most important ESF pillars are:

  1. development and promotion of an active labor market policy aimed at combating unemployment,
  2. promoting equal opportunities in accessing the labor market and preventing social exclusion,
  3. professional development and personal counseling as well as promotion of employment mobility,
  4. supporting innovation and improving the qualifications of both cadres and employees,
  5. actions aimed at activating and increasing the participation of women in the labor market and combating discrimination

EPS projects

The introduction of the European Social Fund in practice is carried out through projects that are presented and implemented through diverse institutions / organizations in the private and public sectors. Among them, we can distinguish: state authorities, regional and local councils, educational and training organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and volunteers, as well as social workers such as: all kinds of trade unions and trade unions, representatives of trade unions and individual companies.

The final benefit of these projects is similarly diversified. We can include: individual employees, groups of people, industry sectors, trade unions, state administration units and individual companies. A different group of target people are extremely vulnerable environments. Usually, this applies to people who have problems with finding a job for themselves or getting a promotion, e.g. people who are without a job or a woman for a long time. It should be taken into account that more than 9 million people from these vulnerable groups receive support each year thanks to participating in such projects that are funded by the European Social Fund.

European Social Fund 2007-2013

In the period that covered the years 2007-2013, the programming of the European Social Fund took place under the sentence "Investments in human capital". The ESF has invested around 75 billion euros during this period. It could be said that it was less than 10% from the European Union budget, which concerned the increase of employment. All cash is provided on the basis of six priorities:

  • Improving the quality of the human fund (34% of all funds)
  • Improvement of employment and its equalization (30%)
  • Improving the adaptability capabilities of employees and companies, enterprises and entrepreneurs (18%)
  • Improving the social unity of people who are less privileged (14%)
  • The foundation of institutional capacity at the state, regional and local level (3%)
  • Stimulation for changes in the sphere of employment and integration (1%)

The real breakdown of these funds in each region may change, depending on local and regional priorities. Each of the above-mentioned priorities is associated with convergence and regional competitiveness and employment. Convergence regions tend to focus more on priorities related to the improvement of the social fund.