ESF in Austria

The European Social Fund (ESF) is the most important financial instrument of the European Union (EU) for social policy and investing in people. The ESF promotes measures

  • to avoid and combat unemployment;
  • to extend the range of training offers,
  • and to improve the functioning of the labour market.

The ESF belongs – alongside the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Cohesion Fund – to the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds.

The use of the finances of the ESI funds is intended to make a contribution towards the achievement of the Europe 2020 objectives for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The European Social Fund in Austria therefore invests in the fields of employment, education and combating poverty, and particularly focuses on the social integration of groups of persons who are disadvantaged and/or at risk of exclusion.

It aims to improve employment and education opportunities in the EU as well as economic and social cohesion in the European Union. To this end, the ESF has been providing funding to the Member States since as early as 1957. The individual Member States and the European Commission consult on the award of ESF funding within the framework of one or several operational programmes (OP). The main focuses and goals of the ESF measures are laid down in the operational programmes.


The current funding period lasts from 2014-2020. In this time, a total of EUR 875,739,295 is available in Austria for labour market and skills training projects. Around half of the costs (more than EUR 442 million) are borne by the ESF.

European funding is always supplemented by national financing sources. This co-financing varies from region to region and depends on their relative affluence (gross domestic product on average in the EU). In Austria, the national co-financing rate for all of the provinces except Burgenland (the so-called more highly developed regions) is 50%.  In Burgenland, however, which is designated as a transitional region, 60% of the project costs are paid from the ESF.