What is the European Social Fund?

Emil Wojtaluk

European Social Fund (ESF) is European Union’s main instrument to invest in human capital – namely workers. It assists by funding initiatives to help workers improve their skills and prospects for job. ESF is mainly desired for those Member States who have the lowest GDP compared to the EU average.

What are the most important priorities?

* Boost adaptability of workers with new skills, and enterprises with new ways of working (training opportunities, active career management, modernizing the institutions etc.),

* Improving access to employment (training and qualifications, helping women after pregnancy to get back to work by updating their skills),

* Helping people from disadvantaged groups to get jobs (minorities, immigrants, social excluded persons),

* Vocational training (improving the offer of companies and universities to be best suitable for individuals and to give more job prospects).

To whom it is addressed?

To Beneficiaries which are wide variety of organizations as: public administrations, workers’ and employers’ organizations, NGO’s, charities and companies.

And to Participants who are individuals who take part in ESF project like: young job seekers getting work placements, people seeking advice how to set up their own business, and many other projects.

How it works?

The fundamental point of the functioning of European Social Fund is partnership between the European Commission and national and regional authorities. Other partners like NGO’s and workers’ organizations are also taken into account in the creation of ESF strategy and monitoring its implementation. The European Social Fund strategy and budget are negotiated and decided by EU governments, European Parliament and The Commission.

There are two main principles constituting ESF. First is co-financing for private and public entities that vary from 50% to 85%, and in exceptional cases even 95% of the total project cost. The level of co-financing also depends on current economic situation of a particular region. And the second principle is shared management which covers preparation of ESF guidelines after consultations with stakeholders, and negotiating 7-year Operational Programmes between national authorities and The Commission.

Important numbers

* Every year EU gives over 10 billion € to the European Social Fund

* European Union will provide over 76 billion € in funding to the ESF for the period 2007 -2013 and 84 billion € for the years 2014-2020!

* Every year ESF supports and train more than 10 million people!

ESF – close to us

Summing up, I would like to stress our domestic example of using ESF in Lublin. John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin is realizing “Najlepsze Praktyki” project co-funded from the fund, which is aimed at: sending doctoral students for internships, English language course for research and teaching staff of the University, organizing lectures of visiting professors and finally – modern studies programmes with additional professional courses that are completely free of charge. Being a student of European Studies I was attending Public Speaking class co-funded exactly from ESF. There are also many other free courses to choose like: fundraising for international projects, project management, protocol and etiquette and much more. That is an example of improving of education that is covered by the main priorities of the European Social Fund.

We can find European Funds at almost every step, we just got used to them. Try to imagine – what if there would be no EU funds? I will leave our readers with that question.


25 thoughts on “What is the European Social Fund?

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