On the 8th of June 2021, the European Parliament  gave its final green light to the European Social Fund +, with a total budget of €88 billion.

The ESF+ is the EU’s main instrument for investing in people and tackling inequalities for the next seven years; it will play an important role in the implementation of the action plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights and in countering the socio-economic effects of the pandemic.

The new European Social Fund + integrates the former European Social Fund, the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD) and the EU programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) into one fund.

The ESF+ foresees:

  • Member states with an above EU-average percentage of young people not in employment, education, or training (NEET) between 2017 and 2019 should devote at least 12.5% of their ESF+ resources to help them improve their skills or find a good quality job. Other member states should also dedicate resources to them, preferably by implementing the reinforced Youth Guarantee schemes;
  • Member states that had an above EU average percentage of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion between 2017 and 2019 should invest at least 5% of their programming resources in directly supporting children’s equal access to childcare, education, healthcare, and decent housing. All member states are obliged to invest in combating child poverty;
  • At least a quarter of the funds will be dedicated to measures fostering equal opportunities for disadvantaged groups, including marginalised communities such as Roma and third-country nationals, to reduce barriers on the labour market, tackle discrimination and address health inequalities;
  • The current Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) has been integrated into the new ESF+. Under the new rules, all member states will have to spend at least 3% of their funds on food and basic material assistance to address the forms of extreme poverty that contribute most to social exclusion.

Following Parliament’s approval, the regulation will enter into force on the twentieth day following its publication in the Official Journal. The Employment and Social Innovation strand will apply retroactively.


For more information, please visit the European Parliament’s website.

To learn more about current calls for proposals or Eurodiaconia’s funding events, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Policy, Projects & Research Officer Vera Nygard at vera.nygard@eurodiaconia.org and our Projects Assistant Giorgia Signoretto at giorgia.signoretto@eurodiaconia.org.