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The European Social Fund (2007-2013)

In order to define the tasks and scope of the European Social Fund for the period 2007-2013, this Regulation lays down specific provisions on the types of expenditure that can be financed by the ESF. The ESF shall support Community priorities as regards the need to reinforce social cohesion, to strengthen productivity and competitiveness, and to promote economic growth and sustainable development. In this context, the ESF aims to contribute to the reinforcement of economic and social cohesion by improving employment and job opportunities.


Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the European Social Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1784/1999 [See amending acts].


For the period 2007-2013, the general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund provide that the ESF shall support actions in the context of the Convergence objective (for least-developed regions) and the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective (which tries to anticipate and promote economic changes in order to meet challenges).


The ESF shall support the policies of Member States to refocus the Lisbon Strategy on growth and employment. Such policies are closely linked to the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPG), the European Employment Strategy (EES), and employment policy guidelines. More specifically, the ESF aims at:

  • reaching full employment;
  • increasing quality and productivity at work;
  • promoting social inclusion (in particular the access of disadvantaged people to employment);
  • reducing national, regional and local employment disparities.

Scope and priorities

Within the framework of the Convergence and Regional Competitiveness and Employment objectives, the ESF shall support actions in Member States under the following priorities:

  • increasing adaptability of workers, enterprises and entrepreneurs with a view to improving the anticipation and positive management of economic change;
  • enhancing access to employment and the sustainable inclusion in the labour market of job seekers and inactive people;
  • preventing unemployment, in particular long-term and youth unemployment;
  • encouraging active ageing and longer working lives;
  • increasing participation in the labour market;
  • reinforcing the social inclusion of disadvantaged people with a view to their sustainable integration in employment;
  • combating all forms of discrimination in the labour market;
  • enhancing and increasing human capital;
  • promoting partnerships.


Furthermore, in the context of the Convergence objective, the ESF shall support the following priorities:

  • more investment in human capital, with reforms in education and training systems, increased participation in lifelong education and training, and the development of human potential in the field of research and innovation;
  • strengthening institutional capacity and efficiency in order to contribute to good governance.

Concentration of support

The Member States shall ensure that the actions supported by the ESF are consistent with and contribute to actions undertaken in pursuance of the European Employment Strategy. Member States shall concentrate support on the implementation of relevant employment recommendations.

Eligibility of expenditure

The rules concerning the eligibility of expenditure shall be decided at national level. Nevertheless, for the ESF the following expenditure is not eligible:

  • recoverable value added tax;
  • interest on debt;
  • purchase of furniture, equipment, vehicles, infrastructure, real estate and land.

Good governance and partnership

The ESF shall promote good governance and partnership. Its support shall be designed and implemented at the appropriate territorial level taking into account the national, regional and local level according to the institutional arrangements specific to each Member State. The Member States shall ensure the involvement of the social partners and adequate consultation and participation of other stakeholders, at the appropriate territorial level, in the preparation, implementation and monitoring of ESF support.


The other provisions relating to cohesion policy for the period 2007-2013 are to be found in four related Regulations:

In political terms, the cohesion policy for the period 2007-2013 has its financial basis in the Interinstitutional Agreement and financial framework (2007-2013).



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006



OJ L 210 of 31.7.2006

Amending act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 396/2009



OJ L 126 of 21.5.09


Commission Decision 2006/593/EC of 4 August 2006, fixing an indicative allocation by Member States of the commitment appropriations for the Regional competitiveness and employment objective for the period 2007-2013 [Official Journal L 243 of 6.9.2006].As amended by:

Decision 2010/476/EU [Official Journal L 232 of 2.9.2010].

Council Decision 2006/702/EC of 6 October 2006 on Community strategic guidelines on cohesion [Official Journal L 291 of 21.10.2006]. The draft Community strategic guidelines for cohesion, growth and employment were adopted by the Council on 6 October 2006. These strategic guidelines constitute the indicative framework for the implementation of cohesion policy and the intervention of the Funds in the period 2007-2013.

Communication from the Commission of 5 July 2005, Cohesion Policy in Support of Growth and Jobs: Community Strategic Guidelines, 2007-2013 [COM(2005) 299 - Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 17.09.2010