The European Social Fund

The European Social Fund (ESF), one of the European Structural and Investment Funds, aims at enhancing employment and fairer life opportunities for all. It is the EU’s main tool for helping people to get a job (or a better job), integrating disadvantaged people into society and ensuring fairer life opportunities for all. It does this by investing in Europe’s people and their skills – employed and jobless, young and old.

The ESF has an overall budget of EUR 120.4 billion for 2014-2020. This support is targeted towards some 15 million people each year to enter into the job market or to improve their skills to find work in the future or for better social integration of certain disadvantaged individuals.

For further information about ESF, please visit the ESF website.

For preliminary information about financial instruments under the ESF, please consult the fi-compass factsheet on ESF financial instruments.

Financial instruments and the ESF

On this website, ESF stakeholders can find a lot of useful and interesting information to improve their decision-making about financial instruments. 

For example:

Publications, including the Survey on current experiences and future views for ESF financial instruments under the ESF, a manual introducing financial instruments for the ESF, which gives an overview of the scope for financial instruments to promote inclusion, sustainable jobs and better education, and fi-compass manuals and factsheets on a number of topics, like social bonds, State aid applied to ESF financial instruments, microfinancesocial entrepreneurship and personal loans, which dig deep into specific themes and help in further spreading the use of financial instruments within the ESF.

Event materials, such as presentations from the fi-compass ESF Conference 'Financial instruments funded by the European Social Fund – Boosting social impact (Brussels, 2018) or the material presented in thematic workshops like the Thematic workshop on social innovation and entrepreneurship held in Lisbon in 2019 or The role of social financial intermediaries in deploying financial instruments (Brussels, 2017).

Case studies, including first-hand knowledge from social economy and entrepreneurship promotion instruments, like the Entrepreneurship Promotion Fund in Lithuania, or the Italian SELFIEmployment, a financial instrument dedicated to NEETs, that can be found in the fi-compass website's library.

News articles provide updates on the latest developments relevant to the use of ESF financial instruments.

Relevant resources

ESF logo  Manuals/Factsheets/Brochures

ESF logo  Case studies

ESF logo  Events