The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) is one the five European Structure and Investment Funds (ESIF). It is Europe’s main instrument for supporting the EU’s employment, social, education and skills policies, including structural reforms in these areas.

The ESF+ brings together four funding instruments that were separate in the programming period 2014-2020: the European Social Fund (ESF), the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD), the Youth Employment Initiative and the European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

The ESF+ programme consists of two strands, the shared management strand and the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) Strand.

The shared management strand is implemented by the EU Member States or regions in partnership with the European Commission. In Flanders, the implementation of the shared management strand of the ESF+ is managed by the ESF Agency Flanders. The operational programme for the implementation of the ESF+ in Flanders for the period 2021-2027 is not yet published.

The ESF Agency Flanders works closely together with various partners such as the Vlaamse Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling en Beroepsopleiding (VDAB), SYNTRA, the Dienst Beroepsopleiding Onderwijs (DBO), the Sociaal-Economische Raad van Vlaanderen (SERV) and the Department of Labour and Social Economy of the Flemish government. 

The Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) Strand is implemented by the European Commission. The EaSI Strand supports evidence-based policy making and is centred around four main policy priorities:

  • Employment and skills;
  • Labour markets and labour mobility;
  • Social protection and active inclusion;
  • Working conditions.

For whom?

For various types of organisations (public services, government institutions, public and private companies), including universities.

Duration and budget

The duration and budget of an ESF+ project varies.

ESF+ projects are partly funded by European resources and may be co-funded by resources from the Flemish government. In some cases the project managers are required to look for other sources of co-funding.

Interested researchers should timely contact the Grants Office of Research, Innovation & Valorisation Antwerp (RIVA) to discuss co-funding arrangements and to get clearance.

Application procedure

For the shared management strand, proposals are submitted through the ESF application. Before an organization is able to submit a project proposal to the ESF Agency Flanders, you need to prove that your organization meets a series of quality requirements.

Detailed information about the application procedure can be found on the web page Wat is een project en hoe indienen?

An overview of open calls can be found on the ESF Flanders website.

For the EaSI strand, proposals are submitted through the EU Funding & Tenders Portal. An overview of open EasI Strand calls can also be found on the EU Funding & Tenders Portal.