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Main contents of the partnership agreement for Germany

In the 2021-2027 funding period, Germany – like all other 26 EU member states – will be supported by the Umbrella Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2021/1060) supported by the EU funds ESF+, ERDF, EMFAF and JTF listed from 06/24/21. While the European Social Fund (ESF+), theEuropean Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and atEuropean Marine, Fisheries and Aquaculture Funds (EMFAF) are three EU funds that have been in use for many years, the Just Transition Fund (JTF) is an EU fund newly launched in 2021. The CPR contains a number of important changes compared to the 2014-2020 funding period. They affect both the design and the implementation of the EU funds in Germany.

All four EU funds are subject to the partnership agreement for Germany from 22.04.22. On the one hand, it reflects a narrower political link between the European Semester and funding under EU cohesion policy. On the other hand iIn the strategic approach for the new funding period 2021-2027, the interventions are geared towards five political goals (Art. 5 Para. 1), which replace the previous eleven thematic goals. These five policy goals are:

  1. A smarter Europe – innovative and smart economic transition
  2. A greener, low-carbon Europe – including energy transition, circular economy, climate change adaptation and risk management
  3. A more connected Europe – mobility and ICT connectivity
  4. A more social Europe – European Pillar of Social Rights
  5. A Europe closer to its citizens – sustainable development of urban, rural and coastal areas and local initiatives

Total amount of cohesion policy funds and breakdown by theme and fund

The cohesion policy funds for Germany add up to 19.860 billion euros in current prices. Of this, 10.820 billion euros are attributable to the ERDF, 6.562 billion euros to the ESF+ and 2.478 billion euros to the JTF. A further EUR 0.212 billion is earmarked for the EMFAF, so that Germany will receive a total of EUR 20.072 billion in EU funding from the four funds (ERDF, ESF+, JTF, EMFAF). In addition, Germany will receive EUR 1.022 billion from the ERDF for European Territorial Cooperation (ETZ).

  • According to the European regulations, the ESF+ funds are to be programmed exclusively under Political Objective 4.
  • Thematically, the ERDF will focus on policy objectives 1 and 2 and at least 85% of EU funding should go to both policy objectives. Political goal 2 should have a budget of at least 30%. At least 8% of the ERDF funds are to be used to promote integrated, sustainable urban development, which is primarily part of Political Objective 5.
  • The JTF serves to support the transition to a sustainable and climate-neutral European economy for regions that are particularly hard hit by the transition to a climate-neutral economy, and in particular the lignite mining areas. The JTF is part of the European Green Deal, which as a growth strategy is intended to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050. The JTF funding is given in particular with regard to the necessary adjustment of employees or the expected loss of jobs in the area of ​​​​production and use of fossil fuels as well as to ecological challenges.
  • The use of the ERDF, the ESF+ and the JTF in Germany supports the strengthening of the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the Union – and in addition the goals of fisheries, aquaculture and maritime policy with the EMFAF.

List of policy objectives relevant to social services

Policy objective 4 “A more social and inclusive Europe through the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights”

Political objective 4 is supported in Germany with the ESF+ from the programs of the federal government and the 16 federal states. With the ESF+the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) (2017) and the Action Plan on the EPSR (2021).. With its 20 key principles in the area of ​​employment and social policy, the EPSR is intended to promote upward social convergence among member states and, when responding to current and future challenges in the area of ​​employment and social policy, as a common compass for more coordinated action at the responsible levels serve.

  • The ESF+ programs in Germany are in line with the country-specific recommendations, the investment guidelines, the European Pillar of Social Rights and the European Commission’s EPSR action plan. The Covid-19 pandemic led to a severe economic slump in spring 2020. GDP shrank by 11.3% in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter last year. The number of short-time workers has meanwhile increased to around 6 million. The number of unemployed increased by 21.6% over the course of 2020 (December 2020 compared to the same month of the previous year 2019), the number of long-term unemployed rose by 33.2% in the same period. Due to the advancing demographic, green and digital change processes, investments in (education) are of central importance for Germany’s competitiveness and future viability.
  • One focus of the ESF funding period 2014-2020 in Germany was reducing the number of people affected by long-term unemployment. Between 2008 and 2019, their number was reduced by 1.103 million or around 68%. In contrast, the at-risk-of-poverty rate fell only slightly over the same period and is now just under 15 percent. People living alone, single parents and the low-skilled and their children have above-average poverty risk rates. There are also pronounced differences in the poverty risk rates between the regions and districts.
  • In Germany there are groups of people who are particularly affected by poverty and exclusion and are considered to be far removed from the labor market. This includes, including the children of those affected, some of the newly immigrated EU citizens who have come from poverty in their countries of origin, as well as homeless people and people at risk of homelessness. According to available estimates, their numbers have continued to rise. Improving the living conditions and social integration of these two particularly disadvantaged target groups, some of whom also suffer from discrimination, represents a particular challenge for many municipalities. a. aim at the socio-economic and social inclusion of disadvantaged people and their families.
  • The ESF+ focuses in particular on promoting active inclusion (Specific Objective h), adapting workers, companies and entrepreneurs to change, active and healthy aging and a healthy and decent work environment that takes health risks into account (Specific Objective d), and equitable access to quality and inclusive education and training, especially for disadvantaged groups, from early childhood through general education and vocational education and training to higher education and adult learning, as well as facilitating learning mobility for all and accessibility for people with disabilities (Specific Objective f).
  • Funding priorities in the ESF+ program 2021-2027

Policy Objective 5 “A Europe closer to its citizens by promoting sustainable and integrated development of all types of territories and local initiatives”

Political objective 5 is taken up in Germany with the ERDF in the programs of 10 federal states. It is also supported by the German program for the EMFAF. Equal living conditions are very important in Germany and the goal is to create good development opportunities and fair opportunities for participation in all regions.

In order to reduce the problems presented and to initiate sustainable developments in the affected areas, the countries identify specific challenges based on the regional and local starting points and define areas of intervention, taking into account the existing national funding approaches, in order to contribute to achieving the goals of the political objective 5 to afford. The measures include strengthening the economic, environmental and mobility conditions in urban and extra-urban areas as well as investments in social infrastructure in disadvantaged urban districts. The further development of cooperation between the city and the surrounding area and intermunicipal cooperation is also supported.

Allocation of cohesion policy funds into national and regional programmes

See overview on the BMAS website in German and English Language.

Coordination between national and regional programs

The federal system in Germany means that the federal states are essentially responsible for the funding strategies in the ERDF and ESF+ and fill out the content of the funding measures within the specified framework. This leads to country-specific peculiarities in the programs. Exceptions to this are the federal program for the ESF+ and the EMFAF, which is jointly supported by the federal and state governments.

The federal and state governments have closely coordinated the program planning for the 2021-2027 funding period. This is intended to avoid overlaps in content and double funding and to ensure interlocking, holistic ESF Plus funding in Germany. The planned priorities of the federal states are essentially based on identified regional funding needs, which often correspond specifically with the state-specific recommendations.

The ESF+ funding programs of the federal government are implemented nationwide under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS) – which is thus the central coordinating body, also for the ESF Managing Authorities – implemented by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) and the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building (BMWSB).

Thematic priorities and their relative proportions

European Social Fund (ESF+)

In the ESF+ 2021-2027 funding period, five federal ministries in total 28 ESF Plus funding programs implement and thus contribute to a more social Europe.

The Funding priorities in the ESF+ program 2021-2027 are summarized under 5 headings:

1. Promoting sustainable and quality employment, start-ups and entrepreneurship and adapting to change

    • Support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in securing and recruiting skilled workers and in creating/filling new jobs and training positions (Perfect cast; Promotion of entrepreneurial know-how )
    • Promotion of SMEs and their employees, who are primarily supported to adapt to demographic, digital and green change and to strengthen their performance, innovation and competitiveness (INQA Coaching; future centers) and strengthening solo self-employed (COMPASS)
    • Promotion of founders, in particular innovative, research-based business start-ups from science (EXIST research transfer, EXIST start-up grant)
    • Vocational training opportunities for employed people, including in particular women, migrants, older people, people with disabilities, single parents and the low-skilled (change of work; tailwind3
    • Improving (training) and labor market opportunities for women with a migration background (MY TURN)
    • Promotion of qualifications required for the recognition of qualifications obtained abroad (IQ)

2. Promoting social inclusion and fighting poverty

  • Promotion of disadvantaged young people with the aim of leading an independent lifestyle (EMPOWER YOUTH); Promotion of transnational mobility measures for unemployed/job-seeking young people (JUVENTUS)
  • Testing of new ways of addressing immigrant young people or young descendants of immigrants (give advice)
  • Support for disadvantaged families, families in special circumstances and families with children who are affected or at risk of poverty (Akti(F) Plus; ParentChancesN)
  • Improving the (training) and job market opportunities of people with a migration background, including refugees (WE)
  • Partner program of the urban development promotion program “Social cohesion – shaping coexistence in the neighborhood together” and additionally in selected disadvantaged city quarters: measures to increase the employability and labor market integration of people, strengthening the local economy (BIWAQ)
  • Promotion of micro-projects for social participation and overcoming loneliness/social isolation of people (Strengthening the participation of older people)

3. Investing in education, training and lifelong learning

  • Measures to further develop all-day offers at primary school age and to ensure educational and participation opportunities for all children (whole day)
  • Research, development and testing of integrative, low-threshold and gender-sensitive educational offers for girls and women with a migration background and/or refugee experience; Research into culturally sensitive behavior in the education system and development of new measures (integration through education)
  • Development of topic-oriented municipal educational landscapes with the aim of increasing local participation in education, promoting lifelong learning and improving social mobility (educational communities)
  • Research funding, knowledge transfer and further training (testing) for the introduction of new technologies and the effects on employees (future of work)
  • Implementation and further development of innovative training and further training concepts for the sustainability-oriented qualification of the training staff in companies and inter-company training centers with the aim of the supra-regional, permanent implementation of sustainability-relevant design approaches in German vocational training structures (Sustainable at work)
  • Promotion of practice-oriented, extracurricular measures so that young people who are about to make their first career choice can get to know training and study courses with a focus on climate protection and try them out; Practice-oriented training courses for climate-friendly action in everyday work (Competence climate)

4. Social Innovations

  • Promotion of older people with the aim of social participation and financial security (strengthening the participation of older people)
  • Development and testing of specific measures to support young men with particular difficulties in accessing (training) education and employment (Win-Win)

5. Support for the most disadvantaged

  • Promotion of the most disadvantaged people, especially homeless people and particularly disadvantaged newly arrived EU citizens and their children (EhAP Plus)

Distribution of funds in ESF+ to the thematic priorities:

  • Social inclusion (=> specific goals h to l): 32.8%
  • Support for the most disadvantaged people (=> specific goals l and above all m): 12.8%
  • Support for combating child poverty (=> specific goals f and h to l): 5.9%
  • Capacity building of social partners and NGOs (= planned under all specific objectives except m): 0.01% in ESF+ Baden-Württemberg
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The ERDF is the largest structural fund and supports all regions and cities in the EU in their economic and social development and an innovation-oriented European structural policy that promotes investments in future technologies and the achievement of climate protection goals. In the funding period 2021-2027, Germany will receive around 11.0 billion euros within the framework of political goals 1 “Promotion for a more competitive and intelligent Europe”, 2 “Promotion of a greener, CO2-free Europe” and 5 “Promotion of a Europe close to its citizens “ are used.

Policy objectives and distribution of ERDF funding (excluding technical assistance in %):

Distribution of ERDF funding in Policy Objective 1 to the specific objectives:

Initiatives to simplify access to EU cohesion and structural funds

Source: the partnership agreement for Germany, p.

Websites on the EU Cohesion and Structural Funds

Competent Administrative Authorities

Overview of calls and tenders for submission of project benefits


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.

Project coordinator

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.

Project coordinator