The European Social Fund (ESF) is Europe's most important instrument for facilitating employment in European countries. It aims to improve access to jobs, provide vocational training and lifelong learning, and support social inclusion. In the current funding phase (2014-2020) of the ESF, the following three horizontal objectives lie at the centre of the Federal Government's Operational Programme for the ESF.
- Gender equality
- Environmental sustainability
These objectives result directly from the regulations of the European Commission and from the corresponding planning documents of the Federal Government. For the programme "Integration through Qualification"(IQ), these are specified in the funding guidelines and funding manual.