European Social Fund & European Regional Development Fund 2014 – 2020

The ESF and ERDF are two of the European Structural & Investment Funds, which support economic development across all of the European Union. These Funds make up over half of the European Union’s budget. Here in Ireland these funds are used, together with Government of Ireland and Local Authority funding, to invest €6.2 Billion in the 2014-2020 period.

The Funds work together to invest in education, research and job creation to help create a sustainable and healthy economy across the whole of the country. They are also spent on protecting our environment, and on supporting rural and coastal communities.


The European Social Fund is the European Union’s main financial instrument for helping people seeking employment through investment in education, skills and employment support. By the end of the current round Ireland will have received over €7 billion from the ESF since joining the EU in 1973.  

For the period 2014-2020, ESF investments within Ireland is delivered through the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL).

The Programme involves a total investment of €1.157 billion; over €544 million each from the ESF and the Government of Ireland and a special allocation of just over €68 million from the EU’s Youth Employment Initiative. 

From 2014 to 2020 the ESF aims to support almost half a million people in Ireland.


The European Regional Development Fund co-finances investments into the regions with Governments across the European Union and supports activities in the regions contributing to a balanced level of development.

In Ireland during the current funding round, there are two Programmes co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund:

Border, Midland and Western Regional Operational Programme

Southern and Eastern Regional Operational Programme

The map above shows the division of Ireland between these two programmes and illustrates the performance targets that the programmes are expected to achieve.

Participant Stories

Click on the images below to read just a few of the stories and experiences of people, communities, companies and organisations that have benefited from the support of the European Social Fund and European Regional Development Fund in Ireland.