European Social Fund + (ESF + )

Programming period 2021-2027
 
The main goal of investing the funds of the European Social Fund + for the period 2021-2027 is to strengthen the economy and society by achieving a higher level of employment, activity and strengthening the skills of the workforce, quality and accessible education related to the labour market, with an emphasis on vocational education, a strong social protection system and quality and accessible social and health service, including long-term care service. Particular attention shall be paid to people at risk of poverty and social exclusion, especially on children in an unfavorable socio-economic position, young people as well as other vulnerable groups, including women, in order to ensure their full equality in society.
The Programme „Efficient human resources“ 2021-2027 (PEHR) is based on the National Development Strategy 2030 (https://digital-skills-jobs.europa.eu/en/actions/national-initiatives/national-strategies/croatia-national-development-strategy-2030) which defines the current state, development potential, vision, development guidelines, strategic goals and development scenario. It also contains reports and recommendations for the Croatia within the European Semester. Taking into account special circumstances of Croatian society and economy, the national goals are set in accordance with the goals of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
The Programme „Efficient Human Resources“ 2021-2027 will contribute to the national goals of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan 2030 :
  • Employed 75% of the population between 20 and 65 years old (EU target 78%)
  • Participation of 55% of all adults in the lifelong learning (EU target 60%)
  • Reduciong the number of people at risk of powerty and/or social exclusion by 298.000 of which 40.000 children (EU target of 15 million persons out of which 5 million children)
 
In the implementation of the ESF Programme 2014-2020 a partnership with social partners and civil society organisations (CSOs) has shown the full potential for achieving the goals defined by the Programme. Through the implementation of activities, social partners and CSOs have the opportunity to develop their capacities for achieving ESF+ targets. CSOs are particularly active in providing social services and implementing activities for the social inclusion of vulnerable groups, and social partners are a key stakeholder in the labour market.
Investments from the ESF+ Programme will contribute to balanced regional development. Given the significant regional disparities in employment, social inclusion, education and health needs, the ESF+ investment will have a regional / local character in intervention design, taking into account specific local and regional needs. This especially applies to social and health services where investments will be carried out based on mapping needs at local level („Za┼żeli“ Programme, community services, personal assistent, etc.).
 
The ESF+ condolidated four separate financial instruments used in the previous programming period 2014-2020, i.e. European Social Fund (ESF), Fund for European Aid for the Most Deprived (FEAD), the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and the Program for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).
The foreseen ES+ funding amounts to EUR 1.933 billion for Croatia. In addition to the funding of national co-financing, the overall financial value of the Human Resources Programme 2021-2027 is almost EUR 2,268 billion (including technical assistance funds).
The ESF+ Regulation defines 13 specific objectives within which the activities to be financed by this fund are elaborated:
a) access to employment and activation measures for all
b) modernisation of the labour market institutions
c) promoting gender-balanced participation in the labor market
d) promoting the adaptation of workers, companies and entrepreneurs to changes and active and healthy ageing
e) improvement of education and training system
f) quality and inclusive education and training system
g) lifelong learning and workplace changes
i) integration of citizens of third countries
j) integration of marginalised communities such as Roma
k) equal approach to quality social services and care protection services
l) promotion of social integration
m) combatting material deprivation
Member States have no obligation to choose all specific objectives for their programme.
 
Following the adoption of the Partnership Agreement in August 2022, the European Commission adopted on 11 October 2022 the Programme "Efficient Human Resources  2021-2027" (https://esf.hr/esfplus/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/PULJP2021-2027_hrv_sfc2021-PRG-2021HR05SFPR001-1.2.pdf), which as the part of the Cohesion Policy package, will be financed by the European Social Fund plus in a total value of EUR 2,268 billion (in addition to the national co-financing, including technical assistance funds).
In accordance with the Law on the right to access to information (OG 25/13, 85/15, 69/22) for the Effective Human Resources Programme 2021-2027 consultation with the public (e-consultation) was carried out.
 
The Programme envisages significant investments in four key areas employment, education, social inclusion and helath and long-term care.
For building of the key partners in implementation of ESF+ Programme, as well as civil society organisations and social partners, in tatal EUR 64 billion has been ensured (EUR 54 million for CSOs capactiies building and EUR 10 million for bulding capacities of social partners).
 
In accordance with the Regulation on bodies in the system of management and control of the use of the European Social Fund plus in connection with the objective "Investment for jobs and growth" within the framework of the Effective Human Resources Program 2021-2027 (OG 96/22 https://narodne-novine.nn.hr/clanci/sluzbeni/2022_08_96_1430.html ), the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs (GOfNGOs) has been designeted as one of the authorities in the governance and control system as Implementing Body level 1 – PT 1.
 
Institutional framework for managing ESF is set out in the Law on Establishing Institutional Framework for Implementation of European and Structural and Investment Funds in the Republic of Croatia during the financial period from 2021 to 2027. (OG 116/21 )
 
GOfNGOs has been participated in the process of programming priorities from the ESF+, i.e. from the Effective Human Resousces, within which funds from the priorities are available for the CSOs projects: „Inclusive labour market and foster employment“, „Education and lifelong learning“, „Social inclusion“, „Health“, „Youth employment“, „Social inovations“ and „Material deprivation“.
 
The GOfNGOs is also, as a part of the process of programming the use of ESI funds for the financial period 2021-2027, conducted an analysis of the needs of civil society organizations for capacity building and the use of ESI funds for CSOs and defining priorities for civil society organizations.
 
Within the above-mentioned priorities, it is planned to publish the following Calls under the competence of the GOfNGOs:
Strengthening the capacities of CSOs for the provision of social services
Enhancing the capacities of CSOs for active ageing
Strengthening the CSOs capacities for popularisation of STEM
Enhancing the capacities of CSOs for financial literacy
Strengthening the capacities of CSOs for youth employment
Enhancing the capacities of CSOs for long-term integration
 
For more information visit the official site of the Programme „Efficient Human Resources 2021-2027 and European social fund +: https://esf.hr/esfplus/, as well as the site of the Structural funds https://strukturnifondovi.hr/eu-fondovi/eu-fondovi-2021-2027/zakonodavni-paket-za-kohezijsku-politiku-za-razdoblje-2021-2027/