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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Monday, 21.09.2020, 14:46

ESF reveals good results for the last seven years

Eugene Eteris, European Studies Faculty, RSU, BC International Editor, Copenhagen, 24.01.2017.Print version
The European Social Fund (ESF) is the EU's oldest fund, created by the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and its main tool for investing in human capital, by promoting employment and social inclusion. Helping people to get a job (or a better job), integrating disadvantaged people into society and ensuring fairer life opportunities for all, are the priorities under the Fund.

Supporting national priorities

According to the evaluation, during 2007-14, the European Social Fund has provided essential support to implementing national and EU priorities for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, including the Europe 2020 targets and country-specific recommendations in the framework of the European Semester.


Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis showed that, according to the report, the ESF within 7 years helped millions of Europeans find jobs, acquire extra skills and qualifications. The European Social Fund had an essential role in the functioning of labour markets in all EU states, it helped modernise employment services, supported education systems and general public administration, and supported the most disadvantaged in society.


He added that the states have to build on this experience to invest in human capital - workers, young people and all those looking for a job.


Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen commented that the EU Social Fund makes a real difference in the lives of Europeans as a main EU instrument to invest in human capital. Thanks to European support, millions of people have found a job, improved their skills or found their way out of poverty and social exclusion. She added that the ESF is a clear example of “solidarity at its best”. 

Effect for the Baltic States

Participants in ESF-actions were almost evenly spread between the inactive (36%), the employed (33%) and the unemployed (30%). Key target groups included the low-skilled (40%), young people (30%) and the disadvantaged (at least 21%). Women made up 51.2 million of the participants.


Several EU states benefited from significant additional financial resources under the ESF in addressing employment and social challenges and setting-up policies that otherwise would have had difficulty to find financial support.

ESF provided, for instance, more than 70% of resources for active labour market policies in Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovakia and more than 5% of expenditure on education and training in Portugal and Czech Republic.


There have been 39 projects implemented in Latvia during 7 years’ period (compared to 31 in Lithuania and 24 in Estonia).


The ESF has played an essential role in supporting the modernisation of public employment services and other institutions responsible for active labour market actions. In less developed regions, the ESF has supported reforms in the education, judiciary and general public administration. This way, it gave a positive impetus to the business environment and creating more inclusive societies. The ESF also has sparked fresh ways of supporting local and regional innovations.


The ESF has also had a positive impact on GDP of EU-28 (0.25% increase) and productivity, according to macroeconomic simulations.

The report finally highlighted the ESF’s role in mitigating the negative effects of the crisis: thanks to its flexibility, it could swiftly respond to emerging challenges, by refocussing actions on those most affected by the crisis.


ESF operations during 2007-15

In this programming period, the ESF was operational in all 28 EU states, through 117 Operational Programmes (OPs).

These programmes responded to different ESF objectives:

- 59 under the regional competitiveness and employment objective,

- 42 under the convergence objective, and

- 16 multi-objective programmes.

In line with the principle of shared management, the Commission and EU states developed together the priorities and objectives of the Programmes; then the states selected and developed the concrete projects under the Programme, in a way that best suited to serve their needs.

The total allocation for ESF during seven years was €115.6 billion, of which €76.8 billion came from the EU budget, €35.1 billion from national public contributions and €3.7 billion from private funds. Operations were carried out between January 2007 and December 2015.



A number of key changes were introduced as compared with the previous programming period, in particular closer links to EU employment policies and objectives and relevant country‑specific recommendations and greater flexibility to decide how to achieve common objectives.

To ensure independence, the evaluation was held by external evaluation experts. It was composed of a preparatory study, five thematic studies covering the whole range of ESF interventions and a synthesis report. It also benefited from the results of an open public consultation. 


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