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European Social Fund ESF

The ESF invests in people, with a focus on improving employment and education opportunities across the European Union. It also aims to improve the situation of the most vulnerable people at risk of poverty.

The ESF investments cover all EU regions. More than € 80 billion is earmarked for human capital investment in Member States between 2014 and 2020, with an extra of at least € 3.2 billion allocated to the Youth Employment Initiative.

For the 2014-2020 period, the ESF will focus on four of the cohesion policy’s thematic objectives:

  • promoting employment and supporting labour mobility
  • promoting social inclusion and combating poverty
  • investing in education, skills and lifelong learning
  • enhancing institutional capacity and an efficient public administration

In addition, 20 % of ESF investments will be committed to activities improving social inclusion and combating poverty. This is known as thematic concentration.

To find out more: see the European Social Fund rules and the ESF website.