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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)

This webpage covers the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) strictly as part of funding projects related to tourism.

Why is it relevant to tourism?

The ESF+ is a key financial instrument for investing in people. It provides much-needed resources to EU countries for the recovery of our societies and economies after the coronavirus crisis. The ESF+ finances the implementation of the principles from the European Pillar for Social Rights.

With a budget of almost €99.3 billion for the 2021-2027 period, the ESF+ will continue to provide an important contribution to the EU’s employment, social, education and skills policies, including structural reforms in these areas.

The ESF+ supports EU policy implementation and national structural reforms in these fields, thus contributing to EU countries’ efforts to reduce unemployment, enhance quality and equal opportunities in education and training, and improve social inclusion and integration.

The ESF+ promotes the horizontal principles of gender equality, respect for fundamental rights, equal opportunities and non-discrimination in all its investments.

Overview of tourism-related components

  1. Further support youth employment: The tourism ecosystem employs a higher share of young people compared to the overall economy. Young people in or entering the labour market have been disproportionately hit by the crisis. EU countries with a large number of people aged 15 – 29  not in employment, education or training should invest at least 12.5% of their ESF+ resources in this key area. All other EU countries must allocate an appropriate amount of their ESF+ resources to targeted actions to support youth employment measures.
  2. Accompany the green and digital transitions: The ESF+ makes a strong contribution to the green and digital transitions by driving investment in jobs and skilling opportunities so that workers can thrive in a climate-neutral, more digital and inclusive society.

Details of the programme

The ESF+ has a total budget of over €99 billion. It invests in people, creating and protecting job opportunities, promoting social inclusion, fighting poverty and developing the skills needed for the digital and green transition. It focuses on objectives related to social inclusion, education and skills, and employment in particular.

The fund is also one of the cornerstones of EU socio-economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has reversed gains in labour participation, challenged educational and health systems and increased inequalities. The ESF+ will be one of the key EU instruments helping EU countries to address these challenges.

As part of cohesion policy, the ESF+ also continues its mission to support economic, territorial and social cohesion in the EU – reducing disparities between EU countries and regions.

Additional information and how to apply

Example(s) of supported projects

Project Title: Duaal Traject Grootkeuken & Catering / Dual learning industrial kitchen and catering

Description: The project fits into a larger framework of an experiment in dual learning development and could be implemented in various sectors. The main goal is to professionalise the hotel, restaurant and catering sector and to strengthen cooperation between education and the hospitality sector.

EU contribution: €60,000

Level of EU funding: 38%

Link to project: Duaal leren | Hotelschool Hasselt (NL)


Project Title: Hospitality Table Cornwall

Description: The project helps the beneficiary – Truro and Penwith College – collaborate with local employers to develop and deliver learning and career opportunities; tailored courses, apprenticeships and work placements. Many of the clients for these courses are local businesses operating in the tourism sector who wish to upskill their staff.

EU contribution: €582,172

Level of EU funding: 83%

Link to project: Hospitality Table Cornwall

Both examples are from the Study on the contribution of tourism to local and regional development - Publications Office of the EU

Database of examples