European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)

The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) aims to support member states and regions to improve employment and education opportunities, to enhance social inclusion and to tackle poverty.

ESF+ is a combination of four funds from the 2014-2020 programming period: the European Social Fund (ESF), the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD), the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and the European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

Aims & Objectives

The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) aims to achieve:

  • high employment levels
  • fair social protection
  • the eradication of poverty
  • a skilled and resilient workforce
  • equal access to the labour market
  • fair and quality working conditions
  • social protection and inclusion

ESF+ has a particular focus on:

  • quality and inclusive education and training
  • lifelong learning
  • investment in children and young people
  • access to basic services

What does it support?

ESF+ co-funds local, regional and national employment-related projects.

Its funding focuses on the following priorities:

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
  • Addressing material deprivation

Education and Skills

  • Better education and training systems at all levels
  • Equal access to quality education and training
  • Upskilling, reskilling and lifelong learning for all


  • Access to quality employment for all, including youth employment
  • Modernising labour market institutions and services
  • Gender-balanced labour market participation
  • Adaptation of workers, enterprises and entrepreneurs to change

Who can apply?

Civil society organisations, public authorities or bodies, social security institutions and employment services, as well as microfinance institutions and institutions providing finance to social enterprises or other social investment actors.

Why the EU funds employment and social inclusion

Read more about EU policy on the topic of Human rights, justice and equality.


€99 billion over 7 years.

ESF+ is a co-financed programme, meaning that EU funding must be matched by a set percentage of national funding.

Project Examples

Funded projects in Ireland

National Contact Point in Ireland

For Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) contact The Wheel at

For ESF contact the ESF Managing Authority here. Email:

Open Calls

Find open calls for ESF+.

Want to find out more?

ESF for recovery

European Structural and Investment Funds in Ireland

EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI)

Helpdesk - EU Funds for Social Services

Social Media on Twitter

EU Funds Ireland on Facebook

View the latest funding from the EU