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The European Social Fund: a very specific case instrument of HRD policy

Eduardo Tomé (Universidade Lusiada, Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 3 May 2013




This paper aims to review the intervention of the European Social Fund (ESF) as an instrument of human resource development (HRD) policies in the European labor market.


The paper uses an economic background, and reviews the official documents produced by the ESF during its history to try to define its economic impact.


The paper concludes that the ESF was mainly a force of absorption of funds, which were sent from the European Union (EU) budget to certain regions.

Research limitations/implications

The absorption logic has the implication that it is doubtful that the ESF completely pursued its aims, because the urge to absorb money somehow overshadowed the need to use it efficiently.


This is the first time the ESF action has been reviewed in one single paper from an economic point‐of‐view.



Tomé, E. (2013), "The European Social Fund: a very specific case instrument of HRD policy", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 37 No. 4, pp. 336-356.



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Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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