This study aims to draw lessons from the application of the European Social Fund (ESF+) during the period of 2014-2020 in regards to its goal of combating poverty.
It looks at the experience of seven EU countries and draws recommendations to improve the application of the fund for the 2021-2027 period.

The Regulation for the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020 stipulates in Article 4.2 that, “At least 20% of the total ESF resources in each Member State shall be allocated to the Thematic Objective no. 9 (TO9) “promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination”. This article in the regulation responded to the historical decision of establishing a poverty target (reduce poverty by at least 20 million people by 2020) in the Europe 2020 Strategy.

In the 2021-2027 ESF+ Regulation, at least 25% of the funds must be invested in the ‘social inclusion policy area’.