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Mercado Interior, Industria, Emprendimiento y Pymes

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 European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) is a key financial programme for investing in people. It provides much-needed resources to EU countries to help societies and economies recover after the coronavirus crisis. The ESF+ finances the implementation of the principles from the European Pillar of 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. It will also fund  structural reforms in these areas.

The ESF+ supports EU policy implementation and national structural reforms in these fields. This contributes to EU countries’ efforts to reduce unemployment, enhance quality and equal opportunities in education and training. It also helps with actions to 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.

Tourism funding criteria

  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  that are 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.

Programme details

The ESF+ has a total budget of over €99 billion. The fund is one of the cornerstones of the EU’s socio-economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has reversed gains in labour participation, challenged educational and health systems and increased inequalities. The ESF+ will therefore be one of the key EU programmes to help EU countries address these challenges.

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

Additional information and how to apply

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Cohesion Open Data Platform

ESF+ on Funding & tender opportunities

Find calls for proposals

Examples of supported projects

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

Description: This 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 and food service sector, and strengthen cooperation between education and the hospitality sector.

EU contribution: €60,000

Level of EU funding: 38%

More information (NL)

Project Title: Digital Leadership Culture

Description: The pandemic has had a significant impact on Danish tourism. After the lockdown ended and restrictions were eased, visitors returned - but in far fewer numbers, and with new habits, needs and expectations. This project aims to strengthen the digital competences of managers and key employees in 420 Danish SMEs. With this new expertise, businesses will be better able to safeguard their long-term survival.

EU contribution: €5,083,722

Level of EU funding: 54%

More information

Database of examples