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What is ESF+ ?

Every 7 years, the ESF programme is renewed and adapted to the challenges Europe is facing. Together with the EU members, the European Commission defines the priorities and the distribution of the budget for the following 7 years. The programme of 2014-2020 is nearing its end and a new operational programme, called ESF+ 2021-20207, is currently in preparation.

For the period of 2021-2027, the European Commission has merged different funds and programmes which resulted in the European Social Fund+ (ESF+): the European Social Fund (ESF), the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the Fund for Europea Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), the programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) and the EU health programme. The fusion of these funds should lead to more cohesion, more synergies, simplified programming and less administration. 



The major premise of the ESF+ is to contribute to a more "social Europe" through the execution of the European pilar of social rights. This main goal is subdivided in specific subgoals.

The relevant specific goals for Actiris are:

  • To improve acces to the job market for young job seekers 
  • To improve acces to the job market for long-term unemployed citizens 
  • To modernise employment institutions and services 
  • To provide tailor-made support
  • To strike a better balance between supply and demand in the job market 
  • To increase the participation of women in the job market 
  • To promote mobility in the job market 

The members of the Union are obliged to invest a justified amount of their ESF+ budget in country specific goals. The report of 2019 noted the following imbalances in the Belgian job market: 

  • Unemployment doesn't decrease for the following groups: the low-skilled, seniors (55+), the under 25s, the NEETs, people with a migration background (non EU), women and disabled job seekers 
  • One of the highest inactivity levels in Europe: 25% of the professional population is inactive, of which 30% are disabled or ill,  and the increase is particularly big with women, seniors and people ranging from 35 to 54
  • High poverty risk for unemployed families, especially those with a migration background
  • Skills and qualifications mismatching in the construction and care sectors, as well as when it comes to skills such as entrepreneurship, digital skills, etcetera 

These are the main recommendations for Belgium in order to work on a "more social Europe":

  • To support active and preventive job market measures and to offer tailor-made, integrated activation support for the unemployed and inactive, including young people without a job or education (NEET)
  • To support informative measures to improve the recruitments by employers, to fight discrimination and to handle the phenomenon of poverty among the working
  • To develop and implement vast regional strategies to improve skills 
  • To develop policy and initiatives which support voluntary mobility between industries and regions 
  • To support existing and new incubators for companies, the self-employed, micro companies, the creation of companies or jobs and, finally, social innovation 
  • To provide support for the acquisition of essential skills for the 21st century (e.g. digital skills) through schooling and education 
  • To promote the socio economic integration of new comers from third world countries through an integrated approach 

More information

Would you like to know more? Visit the following web sites for more detailed information.