25 August 2021
European Social Fund: more than EUR 1 billion for employment and social inclusion in Bulgaria.
The European Commission has today adopted the Bulgarian Operational Programme “Human Resource Development” for the implementation of the European Social Fund (ESF) in the period 2014-2020.
This programme outlines the priorities and objectives to spend EUR 1092 million (of which EUR 939 million from the EU budget including EUR 55 from the Youth Employment Initiative) contributing to creating jobs and strengthening social cohesion in Bulgaria.
The programme has two overall goals: boosting employment and reducing social exclusion and poverty levels. Investment will focus on the following priorities:
– Employment will be boosted by projects (around 550 million EUR) targeting better access to jobs and helping long-term unemployed and young people, particularly those not in employment, education or training up to 29 years of age. Improvements to public employment services will play a key role, and more such services will be established. Self-employment and the capacity to adapt quickly to change will be encouraged. In addition, lifelong learning opportunities will be offered to all groups and age levels. Workers and jobseekers will thus receive help in obtaining new skills and qualifications to improve their career opportunities.
– Around EUR 286 million is dedicated to social inclusion measures. These will target groups such as the young and older members of society, those with disabilities, and minorities such as Roma. Social entrepreneurship and access to vocational training will be promoted, as will better access to health and social care services.
– The OP will also fund improvements to public services that deal with employment and social or health-related matters. Funding for transnational exchanges of good practice will help to achieve this.
Over the funding period, the programme is expected to boost the qualifications of some 100 000 people, give 28 000 jobseekers a work placement and help a further 17 000 young people with employment and training measures. Some 160 000 people will benefit from lifelong learning opportunities while several thousand children, including those with disabilities, will get better access to health care.
On 7 August the European Commission adopted a “partnership agreement” with Bulgaria setting out the strategy for optimum use of European Structural and Investment Funds in the country’s regions and cities for 2014-2020 (IP/14/910). Three ESF co-financed Operational Programmes (Human resources development, Science and education for smart growth, Good governance) will be breaking down the objectives of the Partnership Agreement into investment priorities and concrete actions and will allow selecting, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the individual projects according to the priorities and targets agreed with the Commission.
The European Social Fund (ESF) plays a fundamental role in supporting Member States’ investment in human capital and thereby in strengthening the competitiveness of the European economy as it emerges from the crisis. Every year the ESF assists more than 15 million people by helping them to upgrade their skills, facilitating their integration into the labour market, combating social exclusion and poverty and increasing the effectiveness of public administrations.
In 2014-2020, for the first time in the history of EU cohesion policy, a minimum ESF share of 23.1 % (at EU level) of cohesion policy funding has been set ou.