The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) is the European Union (EU)’s main instrument for investing in people. With a budget of almost € 99.3 billion for the period 2021-2027, the ESF+ will continue to provide an important contribution to the EU’s employment, social, education and skills policies, including structural reforms in these areas.
CALLS FOR PROPOSALS
The calls for proposals are published on the Funding and Tenders portal.
Regulation (EU) 2021/1057 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 June 2021 establishing the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) | OJ L 231/21, 30.6.2021
Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions on the ‘European Social Fund Plus | DOUE C 86/07, 7.3.2019
The ESF+ will also be one of the cornerstones of EU socio-economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has reversed gains in labour participation, challenged educational and health systems and increased inequalities. The ESF+ will be one of the key EU instrument helping Member States to address these challenges. As part of cohesion policy, the ESF+ will also continue its mission to support economic, territorial and social cohesion in the EU – reducing disparities between Member States and regions.
The ESF+ brings together four funding instruments that were separate in the programming period 2014-20: the European Social Fund (ESF), the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD) the Youth Employment Initiative and the European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).
Support under the ESF+ is mainly managed by Member States, with the Commission playing a supervisory role. Funding therefore takes place through:
The ESF+ will support EU policy implementation and national structural reforms in these fields, thus contributing to Member States’ efforts to reduce unemployment, advance quality and equal opportunities in education and training and improve social inclusion and integration.
ESF+ funding will therefore be vital to ensure Europe’s fair and inclusive recovery, and will focus on the following objectives:
Social Inclusion (Active inclusion, Socio-economic integration of third-country nationals, Socio-economic integration of marginalised communities, such as Roma people, Equal access to quality services and modernising social protection systems, Social integration of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and Addressing material deprivation).
Education and Skills: Better education and training systems at all levels, Equal access to quality education and training, and Upskilling, reskilling and lifelong learning for all.
Employment: Access to quality employment for all, including youth employment, Modernising labour market institutions and services, Gender-balanced labour market participation, and Adaptation of workers, enterprises and entrepreneurs to change.
The possible beneficiaries are very varied organisations, such as Public Administrations, workers' and employers' organisations, NGOs, charitable organizations and companies. People who participate in an ESF project are called participants. These may be, for example, older workers undergoing training to acquire new skills, young job seekers undertaking internships, or people who need advice on setting up their own business.
Unlike the other strand of the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) the bulk of the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) strand is managed by the services of the European Commission. This direct management implies that the European Commission launches the calls for proposals to award grants to projects as well as calls for tenders to award service and/or supply contracts. The Commission could also award prizes. International organisations implement a small part of the programme under indirect management.
The activities are described in the annual work programmes, drafted following consultation with the EU Member States and stakeholders, including representatives of civil society.
The EaSI Technical Working Group under the ESF+ committee (EaSI TWG) is composed of government representatives of the Member States and the European Commission. The EaSI TWG discusses the implementation of the EaSI strand, in particular its work programmes. More information on the EaSI TWG can be found on EaSI in your country page. The EaSI annual work programmes can be found here.
Public procurement is used by the Commission for the purchase of services and supply necessary to the implementation of the programme, including mostly intellectual services (statistical or audit reports, consultancy work, communication material, translation, etc.)
The tenders launched under EaSI are published here ; and the big procurements are also published in the supplement of the Official Journal of the EU and at the EU institutions’ eProcurement platform: Ted – tenders electronic daily
Who can participate
Tenders are awarded following the public procurement rules deriving from the World Trade Organisation. Access is open to all entities established in the member States and third countries covered under an international or bilateral agreement.
As concerns grants participation in EaSI calls for proposals is open to persons and organisations from the following countries:
- EU Member States (and their overseas countries and territories);
- EEA countries, in accordance with the EEA Agreement;
- EU acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidate countries, in line with the framework agreements concluded with them;
- Third countries having signed an agreement to participate in the strand or a third country listed in the EaSI work programme, if necessary for the achievement of the objectives of an action. However, in the latter case, organisations established in such non EU country should in principle bear the cost of their participation.
Finally, EaSI is also open to any legal entity created under Union law or any international organisation.