European Parliament votes in plenary for a stronger ESF+ 2021-2027

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On 16 January, the European Parliament adopted in plenary the report on the European Social Fund+ (ESF+). MEPs agreed to increase the budget for the ESF+ to €120 billion for 2021-2027, a 19% increase from the Commission’s proposal.

The voting result is overall favourable for a stronger urban dimension in the ESF+. The report mentions the role of cities and local authorities 17 times compared to no mention in the Commission’s proposal.  Other key results are:

  • Explicit mention for ESF+ to support efforts at all levels of government, including at local level
  • The partnership article calls explicitly on member states to ensure partnership with local authorities
  • The link of ESF+ to cohesion policy is reinforced 
  • ESF+ should support integrated territorial development  
  • Flexibility clause was introduced to ensure that at managing authority level priorities for ESF+ can be identified in line with the specific local or regional challenges
  • A strong focus on social innovation with emphasis on scaling up of local projects developed by cities in the field of reception and integration and inclusion of third-country nationals


Ahead of the vote, EUROCITIES developed voting recommendations based on the position paper adopted in October and engaged members in a coordinated lobby action towards MEPs to ensure ESF+ will have a strong urban dimension. 

Next steps

After this vote, the ball is now in the court of the member states. Now the Council, Commission and the Parliament have to find a common position on the ESF+ before the fund can enter into force. While the European Parliament is ready to enter negotiations, the European Council still has considerable work to do. By the beginning of 2019, only one article of the ESF+ proposal had been fully discussed and many issues ranging from earmarking, co-financing and the link from the European Semester to eligible costs and dedicated measures for youth and migrant inclusion still need to be tackled.
It is very likely that the trialogue negotiations will only start in autumn after the new European Parliament begins its work.
Read the full policy update on the ESF+ below.
   Policy_update_on_ESF_download/preview this file

EUROCITIES staff contact

Bianca Faragau-Tavares