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The European Social Fund

The European Social Fund is the EU’s most important tool for creating more and better jobs in Europe. The Fund has existed since 1957. Every year the Social Fund provides support, education and training to approximately 10 million EU citizens – from Tallinn to Trollhättan, from Barcelona to Boden.



The Social Fund Programme for the period 2014–2020 is an instrument for strengthening and developing the national labour market policy and will contribute to attaining Europe 2020 strategy’s objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. More women and men should have employment and fewer should be outside the labour market. A well-functioning labour market will be created and a higher employment rate achieved in the long run.



The Programme is including possibilities for private co-financing as well as support for employers who plan to hire trainees. The Social Fund will also strengthen the link between education, training and the labour market.

ESF priorities in Sweden

Overall goal of the Social Fund Programme: The programme should contribute to a well-functioning labour market and a durably higher employment in the long term.


3 programme areas

  1. Skills development should contribute to employment,growth and a sustainable working life. The initiativecovers competence development to satisfy the needs of the labour market for a better skilled labour force andmeasures to strengthen the link between education,training and the working life.
  2. Improved transition to work will make it easier foryouth, long-term unemployed, people with functionalimpairments, newly arrived migrants and long-termsick leavers, to obtain employment or improve theirchances of getting a job. Examples of initiatives includeeducation and training, work placement and jobmatching, vocational rehabilitation and preparatoryinitiatives, for example validation of skills.
  3. The Youth Employment Initiative is dedicated toregions within the EU which in 2012 had a youthunemployment rate (15–24 years) higher than25 per cent. South Sweden, Northern CentralSweden and Central Norrland are covered by the initiative in Sweden.


The Social Fund

–€723 million for the Social Fund

–€723 million Swedish co-financing 


The Youth Initiative

–€44 million from ESF for the youth initiative

–€44 million Swedish co-financing

–€44 million from the Commission

The horizontal principles

  • Equality – women and men have the same possibilities and rights
  • Accessibility – improve the accessibility for disabled persons with the aim of improving integration in employment and education
  • Non-discrimination – counteract discrimination on grounds of gender, race, ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation
  • Ecological sustainability – an economy with the ability to generate resources which increase human well-being and social justice while environmental risks and the use of finite natural resources are sharply reduced. Optional.

Managing Authority

The Swedish ESF Council is Managing Authority for the European Social Fund, i.e. responsible for the implementation of the European Social Fund in Sweden. The Council consists of a central office and 8 regional offices in the administrative provinces of Sweden.


Here you can find information about how to contact The Swedish ESF Council.

General Contact information (Swedish)

More information

European Commission website about European Social Found 

The Social fund in figures

Social fund in figures 2014 (.pdf) (English)

The Social Fund in figures 2013 (.pdf) Opens in new window (English) 

The Social Fund in figures 2012 (.pdf) (English) 

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