The ESF Managing Authorities Network in the Danube Region aims at strengthening cooperation and coordination between ESF+ Programmes and the EU Danube Strategy.  Thereby, the network wants to achieve a greater positive impact on social cohesion in the Danube Region.


The network is organised by PAC9 “People and Skills” and PAC10 “Institutional Capacity” together with the ESF Managing Authorities in the Danube Region and other partners (e.g. DG EMPL).


Since 2015, the network works together to build capacities for transnational programme implementation and to promote state of the art social policies in the following areas:

In doing so, the ESF Network takes into account macro-regional dynamics and interdependencies in the Danube Region and aims at building up competent and viable transnational partnerships.

How do we work?

The ESF Network is a community of practice. Our aim is to increase the positive impact of social policy investement in accordance with the objectives of the EU Danube Strategy. Against this background, the network serves as a platform for peers to exchange on implementing transnational cooperation through the ESF Programmes. Furthermore, the network explores opportunities for transnational project cooperation. Thereby, the network is in close exchange with the European Commission (DG EMPL) and other macro-regional Managing Authorities networks.


The cooperation in the ESF Network is based on a vision jointly developed by the ESF Managing Authorities and Priority Area 9 “People and Skills” and Priority Area 10 “Institutional Capacity and Cooperation” of the EU Danube Strategy.


Our vision addresses the following objectives:

  • Developing a common understanding of the role of the EUSDR in relation to the ESF / ESF+;
  • Consolidating the network: Enhancing Know-how-transfer and co-designing of a state of the art of social innovation; capitalising on and disseminating good practice out of project results and experiences;
  • Handling spill-over effects: Curbing and/or managing negative spill over effects and increasing the positive impact through closer coordination;
  • Managing transnational cooperation: Building a viable programme framework to manage transnational cooperation.
How was the network established?

How was the ESF Network established?

The ESF Managing Authorities Network was established following the Meeting of Ministers in charge of EU funds at the margins of the EUSDR Annual Forum in Ulm, Germany in 2015. 

Ever sincethe network has gradually and systematically gained in maturity. The network addresses various topics ranging from the discussion of concrete projects to challenges and opportunities in the implementation of transnational cooperation within the European Social Fund (ESF). Furthermore, the network identified common topics for transnational cooperation and, subsequently, elaborated a joint text module related to the EUSDR/transnational cooperation in the upcoming multi-annual financing framework for 2021-27.


Since 2017, PAC9 “People and Skills” and PAC10 10 “Institutional Capacity” took on the role of a network secretariat.

The meetings are chaired by the Managing Authorities.

The ESF network is the first network of ESIF Managing Authorities in the Danube Region.


Meetings of the ESF Network

Discussing thematic priorities for transnational cooperation and concrete needs for capacity building. Exchange on needs and potential initiatives to support refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Site visit at the social enterprise “Magdas Hotel”, a vocational training programme for refugees and hotel in Vienna (AT).

Update on the state of play of ESF programming and defining topics for transnational cooperation including initial brainstorming of good practices for transnational cooperation.

Exchange about progress in the programming of ESF+ Operational Programmes 2021-2027 as well as continuation of discussion on topics for transnational cooperation.

Exchange on the state of programming and assessment of topics for joint cooperation.

Discussion on further specifications for the text module (provision) on transnational cooperation for the Operational Programmes. In addition, the Managing Authorities agreed on a short list of 7 potential topics for transnational cooperation that will be assessed in the course of programming. The short-listed topics are in line with the actions of the EU Danube Strategy.

Discussion of concrete projects and examples for transnational cooperation, ofhow to integrate transnational cooperation in the MFF 2021-27; development of a draft text to be used for the new Operational Programmes and transnational cooperation relatedto the EUSDR. This can be used both for OPs dedicated entirely to transnational cooperation as well as for OPs integrating transnational cooperation.MAs expressed the wish to meet twice per year.

Presentation of transnational cooperation in Poland and Bulgaria.

5 countries of the Danube Region (BG, HR, SI, SK, Baden-Württemberg, (+PL)) stressed that they intend to implement transnational cooperation in the upcoming multi-annual financial framework.

Presentations of the ESF network of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), the ESF transnational platforms implemented by AEIDL on behalf of DG EMPL, and Baden-Württemberg on lean fund management. Discussion on joint topics for transnational cooperation: an overview of projects could contribute to identifying potential for transnational cooperation and synergies.

Foundation of the network, related to a meeting of ministers in charge of EU funds.Besides simplification and e-cohesion, transnational cooperation was seen as one of the main challenges in the implementation of ESF OPs.