Regulation on the European Social Fund

It sets down principles, rules and standards for the implementation of the European Social Fund (ESF).

In 2014-2020, the ESF covers 4 main areas of investment:

  • employment and in particular youth employment;
  • social inclusion;
  • education; and
  • good governance (i.e. improved quality of public administration).

Overall aimsThe ESF invests in people with the aim of improving employment and education opportunities across the EU. Over the 2014-2020 period, it aims to pay particular attention to vulnerable groups, including youth. The regulation describes the scope of the ESF and its relationship with the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI).

Key themes

The ESF focuses on a number of key themes including:

  • promoting employment and supporting labour mobility;
  • promoting social inclusion and combating poverty;
  • investing in education, skills and lifelong learning;
  • enhancing institutional capacity and the efficiency of public administration.

All EU countries are eligible for funding from the ESF. A wide range of organisations, from both the public and private sectors, can apply through the EU countries.

Budget priorities

For the first time, a minimum share has been introduced for the ESF, set at 23.1% of cohesion policy which corresponds to more than €80 billion earmarked for ESF programming during the 2014-2020 programming period. In each EU country, at least 20% of the ESF must be earmarked for social inclusion and combating poverty. This means helping vulnerable people and disadvantaged groups to get the skills and jobs they need to integrate into the labour market.

The ESF must provide targeted help for young people by topping up the YEI with at least €3.2 billion. This initiative must exclusively support young people not in employment, education or training in regions experiencing youth unemployment rates above 25%.In light of the need to address the persistently high levels of youth unemployment in the EU, Regulation (EU) 2015/779 amends Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013. It increases the level of the initial pre-financing paid to operational programmes supported by the YEI in 2015 from 1% to 30%.

The programmes must be results-oriented and based on the additionality principle*. The concentration mechanism (i.e. very focused measures on a given target group) is important in order to make a real impact on the ground.ImplementationPartnership Agreements and operational programmes, agreed between the EU countries and the European Commission, set the framework for strategic investments at national and regional level.

Public-Private Partnerships

Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 stipulates that in relation to a Public Private Partnership (‘PPP’) operation a beneficiary may be a body governed by private law of an EU country (‘private partner’). The private partner (selected to implement the operation) may be replaced as beneficiary during implementation — where this is required — under the terms and conditions of the PPP or of the underlying financing agreement between the private partner and the financial institution co-financing the operation.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/1076 lays down additional rules on the replacement of the beneficiary and on the related responsibilities. In the case of the replacement of a beneficiary in a PPP operation funded by European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs), it is necessary to ensure that after the replacement, the new partner or body provides at least the same service and with the same minimum quality standards, which was required by the initial PPP contract. This regulation also sets out procedures with regard to proposals to replace the private partner and confirmation of the private partner, as well as minimum requirements to be included in PPP agreements funded by ESIFs.

This article is derived from European Union public sector information. EU public information is reproduced pursuant to Commission Decision of 12 December 2011 on the reuse of Commission documents (2011/833/EU) (the EU Decision)

Share this article