What is ESF?

The European Social Fund (ESF) is Europe’s main instrument for supporting jobs, helping people get better jobs and ensuring fairer job opportunities for all EU citizens. It works by investing in Europe’s human capital – its workers, its young people and all those seeking a job. ESF financing of EUR 10 billion a year is improving job prospects for millions of Europeans, in particular those who find it difficult to get work.

The European Union is committed to creating more and better jobs and a socially inclusive society. These goals are at the core of the Europe 2020 strategy for generating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU. The current economic crisis is making this an even more demanding challenge. The ESF is playing an important role in meeting Europe’s goals, and in mitigating the consequences of the economic crisis – especially the rise in unemployment and poverty levels.

Information on ESF across Europe is available on the European Commission’s website.

Setting Priorities:

The European Commission and EU countries in partnership set the ESF’s priorities and how it spends its resources. One priority is to boost the adaptability of workers with new skills, and enterprises with new ways of working. Other priorities focus on improving access to employment: by helping young people make the transition from school to work, or training less-skilled job-seekers to improve their job prospects. Indeed, vocational training and lifelong learning opportunities to give people new skills form a large part of many ESF projects.

Another priority focuses on helping people from disadvantaged groups to get jobs. This is part of enhancing ‘social inclusion’ – a sign of the important role that employment plays in helping people integrate better into society and everyday life. The financial crisis has led to a redoubling of efforts to keep people in work, or help them return to work quickly if they lose their jobs.

Projects For People:

The ESF is not an employment agency – it does not advertise jobs. Rather, it is funding tens of thousands of local, regional and national employment-related projects throughout Europe: from small projects run by neighbourhood charities to help local disabled people find suitable work, to nationwide projects that promote vocational training among the whole population.

There is a great variety in the nature, size and aims of ESF projects, and they address a wide variety of target groups. There are projects aimed at education systems, teachers and schoolchildren; at young and older job-seekers; and at potential entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. People are the focus of the ESF.

European Social Fund 2014–2020:

The ESF is one of the five European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). From 2014, these operate under a common framework and pursue complementary policy objectives. They are the main source of investment at EU level to help Member States to restore and increase growth and foster a job rich recovery while ensuring sustainable development, in line with the Europe 2020 objectives.

Which objectives for the ESF in 2014-2020?


The vision of this Programme is that European Structural Funds Investments will help combat unemployment, strengthen Gibraltar's entrepreneurial base and improve the skills and qualifications of the labour force in a sustainable manner.

The aims of the Programme are to stimulate and create an environment supportive of a demand-led and market-driven economy, especially through the growth of SMEs and to target investments to improve access to the labour market.

This strategy takes account of the evidence base, current local policy practice and the views of partners and stakeholders in Gibraltar. Its purpose is to focus future interventions to promote high quality, strategically aligned projects which are coordinated with domestic programmes. This approach will assist Gibraltar to maximise the added value of future interventions and through that, achieve its Programme goals.

Priorities for the Structural Funds will be focused on actions which lead to the aims and objectives set out in the strategy. These intend to capitalise on the opportunities for growth for Gibraltar. The programming considerations will help to focus Structural Funds actions on those areas which are shown to have a clear impact as part of a wider regional economic approach.

The Programme has been developed following extensive consultations with representatives from public, private and NGO sectors.


The Programme is expected to deliver a series of results including:

  • Increasing the number of people over 25 years of age in employment, including self-employment; after attending an ESF project by 80%;
  • Increasing the number of people below 25 years of age in employments , including self-employed; after attending an ESF project by 80%;
  • Increasing the number of people with qualifications after attending an Euco-funded project by 80%;
  • Increasing the number of participants completing work-based learing schemes or apprentiship schemes by 80%;
  • Delivery

    The EU Programmes Secretariat has responsibility for ESF funds in Gibraltar. The EUPS manages the ESF Programme and liases with the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) in the UK and European Commission in Brussels.

    How to apply?

    Any public, private or third sector organisation that is legally formed, and able to deliver ESF provision can apply for funding through the appropriate Government Department i.e. the Department of Education or the Employment Service. Individual and sole traders cannot apply.

    All applications must be channelled via the appropriate Government Department who need to provide “match funding” for the project.