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The partnership agreement of the cohesion funds in Belgium

In Belgium, cohesion policy is exclusively a matter of competences and their distribution between the Communities and Regions, with the exception of the operational program for food aid of the European Social Fund (ESF+).

The federated entities are indeed autonomous in terms of economic development, employment policy, training and innovation. In this respect, they develop their strategies independently of each other, even if there is a degree of consultation (meetings, exchanges, negotiations) between the different federated entities, there is no established coordination mechanism cohesion policy in Belgium.

For the 2021-2027 programming, the organization and coordination of the meetings were entrusted to the FSE-Flanders managing authority and then to the ERDF-Brussels-Capital Region for the drafting of the Partnership Agreement (PA) . The representatives of the managing authorities involved each drafted their contributions in the PA via the shared platform provided by the Flemish managing authority. The Flemish managing authority then the ERDF managing authority of the Brussels-Capital Region provided the final drafting.

The Partnership Agreement for Belgium (pdf), signed and drawn up in cooperation with the European Commission, is the result of negotiations and cooperation between the different regions, communities and the federal state.

This PA is the strategic document for the programming of investments under the cohesion policy funds in the multiannual financial framework of the European Union (EU). This PA is focused on EU priorities, it defines the investment strategy and priorities determined by each Member State concerned and presents a list of national and regional programs to be implemented on the ground, together with an allocation indicative annual financial support for each programme.

Architecture of ESF and ERDF funds in Belgium – programs and managing authorities

In Belgium, the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) are the subject of separate operational programs and are managed by separate managing authorities.

The ESF+ aims to help Member States tackle the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The ESF+ is essentially geared towards needs in terms of employment and inclusion, in particular in reaching the people furthest from the job market. Its objective is to achieve high levels of employment, fair social protection and a skilled workforce ready for the transition to a green and digital economy.

The ERDF aims to support the economic development of EU regions, by reducing economic, social and territorial disparities. The managing authorities of the ERDF in Belgium are:


In addition, the site Europe in Belgium is the common Belgian portal for the European Structural and Investment Funds which groups together all the operational programs by managing authority in Belgium.


Agence FSE


Dependent on Ministry of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, the FSE Agency is the managing authority for French-speaking Belgium covering: the Walloon region, the Wallonia-Brussels federation and the French Community Commission. It manages, under the authority of the Minister-President of the Walloon Government, the ESF+, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the European Globalization Adjustment Fund for workers (FIVE) for the French-speaking part of the country.

In order to simplify the implementation of the ESF+, the EC merged the European Social Fund (ESF), the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) and the Program for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). Moreover, the Just Transition Fund (FTJ) was created among the cohesion funds. The JTF aims to help regions and people cope with the social, economic and environmental consequences of the transition to a climate-neutral economy.

The main challenges identified in relation to ESF+ are the effects of the Covid crisis on employment, the economy and the labor market; professional integration and level of qualification; education, training and integration; the risk of poverty and exclusion; and, the challenges of climate transition.

Governance issues and simplification measures

The evaluation of the management and control system of past programming made it possible to recommend the following simplification measures:

  • Support for beneficiaries in the use of simplified costs (lump sum and unit). The challenge for the ESF Agency is to inform and support, upstream and as soon as the application is submitted, for a transversal application of fixed costs and the definition of specific unit costs for certain systems.
  • The practice of project portfolios is maintained, with the aim of creating synergies between projects by allowing beneficiaries to develop joint actions, to propose courses (integrating support, training and inclusion measures), and to meet new needs or follow a previously unknown audience.
  • The selection of projects is made by a committee of experts, selected via a public procurement procedure, which will assess the relevance of the projects.

Development of the 2021-2027 program – principle of partnership

A partnership consultation based on several evaluations and a survey towards the participants of the previous programming demonstrates:

  • The contribution of the ESF, in addition to public policies, to meet employment and inclusion needs, particularly in reaching the most distant audiences for whom “attachment” remains an issue. The action plans have been a source of innovation and the implementation of partnerships.
  • The importance of individual support for the public as well as the added value of partnership and innovative work between beneficiaries, facilitating the decompartmentalization between sectors and offering the possibility of meeting the needs of the labor market
  • The importance of digitization and digital issues, such as the fight against abandonment in training (school dropout, lifelong training).

The Monitoring Committee 2021-2027

The Monitoring Committee is in charge of monitoring the implementation of the operational programme. Its main role is therefore to review the progress made throughout the program to achieve the objectives set.

The purpose, composition and operation of the Monitoring Committee for French-speaking Belgium is determined in the internal regulations. The latter specifies in particular that the members of the Monitoring Committee are composed in particular of representatives of European authorities, governments (Wallonia, FWB, COCOF) and the ESF agency, socio-economic partners and intermediary bodies, including partners social. here is list of members of the ESF+ Monitoring Committee 2021-2027 for French-speaking Belgium.

Selection process and criteria

The selection process and criteria are formulated by the Monitoring Committee in this guide which is included in the call for projects guide.

In this context, a Committee of Experts has been set up, made up of 15 members and divided into three sub-committees dedicated respectively to the ERDF, FTJ and the ESF+. The work of these Expert Committees will be supervised and led by an external consultant. The experts and the consultant are designated by public contracts. The secretariat of the Committee of Experts will be provided by the Office of the Minister-President, supported by the ESF Agency for the sub-committee dedicated to the ESF+.

A first call for projects will be organized at the start of the program and will cover all the measures. The 2026-2027 budgets will be the subject of a new call for projects in 2025 (with the possibility of identifying new needs), taking into account the mid-term evaluation. The portfolios of projects selected during the first call will be considered as priorities during the selection, subject to the eligibility conditions of the new call.

The stages of project selection

The three phases of project selection are:

  1. Feasibility opinion from the administrations – technical opinion, only feasible projects move on to the next stage.
  2. The Committee of Experts will assign a rating to each project, following this evaluation, a ranking of all the projects will be established.
  3. The Walloon Governments, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and the COCOF College constitute the decision-making and validation bodies of the Managing Authority formally approves the selection of projects, most often on the basis of the ranking established by the Committee of Experts .

The entire selection process and its criteria are defined and detailed in the Guide to the selection procedure.

Thematic focus

ESF+ resources are allocated 33% to social inclusion, 14% to support youth employment and 4% to support the most deprived people.

For the period 2021-2027, EU cohesion policy has set itself five strategic objectives for the ERDF, the ESF+ and the Cohesion Fund. The specific objectives relating to the ESF+ fall under 4th strategic objective “A more social Europe implementing the european pillar of social rights”.

These specific objectives of the ESF+ can be subdivided into three main themes:

  • labor market : improving access to employment, especially for young people. Anticipating skills needs and promoting the participation of women in the labor market;
  • Education and vocational training: Improve the quality, efficiency of education and training systems. Promote inclusive and quality education, or training. Promote lifelong learning;
  • Inclusion and poverty: encouraging active inclusion and promoting the socio-economic integration of third-country nationals. Promote the social integration of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion, including the most deprived and children.

Priorities and strategic objectives of the ESF+ program 2021-2027


OS 4.1. Improving access to employment and activation measures for all jobseekers, in particular young people, in particular through the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, the long-term unemployed and disadvantaged groups on the market of work, and inactive people, as well as the promotion of self-employment and the social economy.

Measure 1 – Support the creation of one’s own job through the creation and resumption of activity through training and/or support (pre and post-creation) adapted, in particular in connection with the challenges of green and digital transitions .

OS 4.7. Promoting lifelong learning, including flexible upskilling and retraining opportunities for all, taking into account entrepreneurial and digital skills, better anticipating changes and new needs-based skills requirements labor market, facilitate professional transitions and promote professional mobility.

Measure 1 – Develop education, training and support offers in line with the needs of the job market and with the major challenges of transitions, including through the deployment of vocational training (including work-study), validation of skills and enhancement of acquired experience.

Measure 2 – Support lifelong guidance by offering the public a “gateway” at any time on their path to working life (education, training, employment, creation ) by providing information and guidance tools (including integrated actions between actors in the employment and education services) on the labor market, training and studies.


OS 4.1. Improving access to employment and activation measures for all jobseekers, in particular young people, in particular through the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, the long-term unemployed and disadvantaged groups on the market of work, and inactive people, as well as the promotion of self-employment and the social economy.

Measure 1 – Develop innovative approaches in the fight against long-term unemployment through a pilot approach inspired by the “Territory zero long-term unemployed” scheme.


OS 4.1. Improving access to employment and activation measures for all jobseekers, in particular young people, in particular through the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, the long-term unemployed and disadvantaged groups on the market of work, and inactive people, as well as the promotion of self-employment and the social economy.

Measure 1 – Develop engagement, remobilization and support for young people and young people with learning difficulties by setting up a multidisciplinary approach, mentoring, tutoring, coaching, training programs volunteering and civic service or psychosocial support to enable them to develop their life and professional project.

Measure 2 – Support the acquisition and development of skills (including digital, linguistic or entrepreneurial skills) for young people, in particular those furthest from employment and young people with little or no qualifications, as well as their support and follow-up towards and in employment and strengthen the link with the world of work.

OS 4.6. Promote equal access and follow-up to the end of an inclusive and quality education or training course, in particular for disadvantaged groups, from early childhood education and care to adult education and training through general education and vocational education and training and higher education, and facilitating learning mobility for all and accessibility for people disabilities.

Measure 1 – Promote and offer more inclusive forms of education and pedagogical innovations allowing, in particular, bridges between ordinary and specialized education on the one hand, and between educational path and professional life on the other.

Measure 2 – Support for success and the fight against dropping out of school, in particular by intensifying links with school retention services, actions on the interface between school, family and young people, and by supporting the development of pedagogical and partnership methods encouraging adherence and follow-up.


OS 4.8. Fostering active inclusion in order to promote equal opportunities, non-discrimination and active participation, and to improve employability, in particular for disadvantaged people.

Measure 1 – Support actions upstream of registration in a global path of inclusion towards employment for the benefit of the most vulnerable groups, with little or no qualification and/or in a precarious situation.

Measure 2 – Ensure sustainable integration into employment by supporting the acquisition and development of skills (including digital and/or language skills) for the most vulnerable groups and those furthest from employment, as well as their support and follow-up to and in employment.

OS 4.12. Promote the social integration of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion, including the most deprived people and children.

Measure 1 – Promote and strengthen the right to participation of children living in poverty (in all environments where the child is welcomed) through participatory projects allowing them to more easily access their rights and exercise them through proactive approaches to inclusion and by supporting parents through additional social monitoring, as part of the implementation of the child guarantee


Os 4.11. Improve equal and timely access to affordable, sustainable and quality services, including services that promote access to housing and people-centred care, including health care; modernize social protection systems, including by promoting access to social protection, with a particular focus on children and disadvantaged groups; improve accessibility, in particular for people with disabilities, efficiency and resilience of health care systems and long-term care services.

Measure 1 – Support actions contributing to the deinstitutionalization of people with disabilities or loss of autonomy.

Belgian specificities

To be able to participate in the FSE+ 2021-2027 call for projects, the applicant organization must benefit from public subsidies, granted by Wallonia, the FWB or the COCOF. The ESF+ comes in addition to these public subsidies. When submitting an application, it is necessary to specify the activities for which the organization is approved and receives public subsidies. This aspect is indeed not negligible, if an organization is approved for the training of adults (18-64), but submits a project which also targets NEETs (15-18), the latter will not be considered eligible, except if there is an exception.

The concept of project portfolio is maintained with the aim of maximizing the impact of co-financed actions on operators. Registration within a portfolio is a sine qua none condition for any beneficiary wishing to submit one or more application(s); with the exception of priority 2 of social innovation.

A portfolio of projects is a grouping of complementary projects covering, for example, a specific area or a particular theme, aimed at solving a specific problem and which raises the issue of coherence and complementarity between several operators.

For more details, this notion of project portfolio is always specified in ESF+ calls for projects; including for example in the Guide to the 2022 call for projects.

The eligibility period for projects begins on January 1, 2022 and ends on December 31, 2027, with the exception of priority 2 (December 31, 2026). The ESF+ Agency has drawn up an Administrative and Financial Guide for the 2021-2027 accreditation period for the use of beneficiaries.

Service public de wallonie spw – managing authority feder

In Wallonia, the ERDF is managed by the Department for the Coordination of ERDF Programs which is part of the SPW. Its role is to contribute to the efficient and harmonious management of programs co-financed by the ERDF in the Walloon region. It draws up operational programs and negotiates them with the Commission. It manages calls for projects and ensures all mandatory reports to the EC.

The 2021-2027 ERDF programming targets the five strategic objectives of EU cohesion policy:

  • Smarter Europe — innovative and smart economic transformation;
  • A greener, low-carbon Europe;
  • A more connected Europe — mobility and regional ICT connectivity;
  • A more social Europe implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights;
  • A Europe closer to citizens — sustainable and integrated development of urban, rural and coastal areas through local initiatives.

ERDF priorities in Wallonia

In Wallonia, these objectives are broken down into 5 priorities and 19 measures:

  • Priority 1 – A smarter and more competitive Wallonia: aid for research and innovation, support for businesses and the digital transition, re-equipment of sites and economic activity zones, investment aid, etc.
  • Priority 2 – A greener Wallonia: energy renovation of public buildings, sustainable use of resources, support for companies’ low-carbon transition, etc.
  • Priority 3 – A more connected Wallonia by improving the mobility of people: sustainable local and regional mobility
  • Priority 4 – A more social Wallonia: state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment for vocational training and university higher education
  • Priority 5 – A Wallonia closer to the citizen: urban development.

For more details, the Complementary ERDF programming 2021 – 2027 “ERDF Wallonia Program 2021-2027” specifies all the priorities, with the associated measures and budgets.

Main target groups

  • Municipalities and associations of municipalities, Provinces, supra-municipal associations, local authorities and other local authorities
  • Territorial development agencies
  • SPW
  • Other legal persons governed by public law

Generally speaking, the ERDF in Wallonia is aimed more at actors who come under the private sector, the social profit sector (non-market) being mentioned only once (concerning thermal renovation), no no further reference is made to social/benefit services and their infrastructure needs.

Additional Resources

  • The website remains the national communication channel. Fed by the Regions, it presents all the European funds that can be mobilized as well as the projects selected on the national territory.
  • The website highlights the Walloon projects financed. Some projects are the subject of presentation videos broadcast on various channels.
  • The website Cohesion Data portal provides an overview of Belgium’s performance and results for the 2014-2020 programming.
  • The platform cohesion of the Commission offers an overview of the projects financed by the various funds in Belgium. You can find the most recurrent beneficiaries and the most important projects carried out by different organizations.

ESF+ and ERDF responsible authorities and other relevant contacts

Name of the institution

Name of the person


Walloon Government, represented by the Minister-President having the coordination of the Structural Funds in his competence

Anaïs Goffinet

Audit Unit of the Finance Inspectorate – European Structural Funds

Genevieve Demarche

General Secretariat of the French Community

Claire Moussebois

ERDF Program Coordination Department

Generic address

Inspector General of the ERDF Programs Coordination Department

Jean Janss

The Management and Animation Department (DGA) of the ERDF

Mme Catherine Mathot

The Financial Monitoring and Control Department (DSC) of the ERDF

Mr Luc Hougardy

General Delegate of Wallonia and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation

Permanent representation of Belgium to the European Union

Valérie Goujard, secretaryValérie Goujard, secretariat

Wallonia-Brussels General Delegation to the EU

Attaché: Cohesion Policy – BOUTRIAU Barbara

Head of Unit: Mr Jiri PLECITY

Agence FSE

Véronique Lesne, Director

Agence FSE

Stéphanie Close, Deputy Director of Management Services


Co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.


Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
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