European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)

European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)

Social investment market players, including philanthropic actors, can play a key role in achieving several ESF+ objectives, as they offer financing as well as innovative and complementary approaches


What is the ESF+?

As of January 2021, the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) will be the EU’s main financial tool to strengthen the social dimension of the Union. It is the successor of the European Social Fund (ESF), which has supported investments in the social future of European citizens for six decades.

What is the budget and what will it be for?

With a provisional budget of €101.2 billion, the ESF+ will be used to invest in three areas:

  • Education, training and lifelong learning
  • Effectiveness of labour markets and equal access to quality employment
  • Social inclusion, health and combating poverty

How will the fund be managed?

€100 billion of the fund will be under shared management with the Member States. This means that the ESF+ Managing Authorities in each country will dedicate the money to projects that are run by a range of public and private organisations, thereby ensuring to respond to the country- and region-specific needs.

The remaining €1.2 billion will be under direct management of the European Commission, and will be dedicated to health, and employment and social innovation. It will provide the means to test innovative solutions in these fields in a cross-border approach. Specifically, one of the objectives is to support the development of social enterprises and the emergence of a social investment market.

What can EVPA and its members do with the EFS+?

In the ESF+ regulation, lack of access to finance for social economy and social enterprises is presented as one of the main obstacles to businesss creation. Moreover, social investment market players are acknowledged to play a key role in achieving several ESF+ objectives, since they offer financing and innovative and complementary approaches to several social issues.

ESF+ can therefore be an opportunity to investors for impact. EVPA continues to monitor the developments around ESF+ and will communicate any interesting funding opportunities on its website and via the monthly newsletter.

Contact for more info

Bianca Polidoro , Policy Manager, EVPA

​Tessa Van Autreve , Policy Assistant, EVPA

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