The ESF+ is the EU’s instrument for investing in people. It aims to improve employment and education opportunities, to enhance social inclusion and to tackle poverty. The main objective of the ESF+ is a more social Europe. It will support the principles of the European pillar of social rights and the implementation of recommendations under the European Semester.
Member States with a substantial number of young people not in employment, education or training will have to dedicate at least 10% of the ESF+ funding to measures in support of youth employment and activation of young people
Member States must allocate at least 25% of ESF+ funding to measures fostering social inclusion and targeting those most in need, while a target of 4% is also set for supporting the most vulnerable.
ESF+ will be more coherent with and complementary to other Funds that provide support to people, such as Erasmus, the Asylum and Migration Fund, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and the Reform Support Programme.
The regulations for the upcoming programming period are still under negotiation and Ireland’s final allocation for the ESF+ has yet to be decided. The ESF+ is a co-financed programme, meaning that EU funding must be matched by a set percentage of national funding. This co-financing rate varies by region. Ireland will have three NUTS 2 regions in the 2021-2027 round, with two different rates of co-financing. As ‘more developed’ regions, the Southern and the Eastern & Midlands regions will receive 40% in EU financing, while as a ‘transition’ region the North-Western region will receive 55% in EU financing.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Education and Skills, and the three Regional Assemblies have launched a consultation process to inform the selection of priorities for the use of EU cohesion funding in Ireland for the period 2021-2027.