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European Structural Funds


European Structural and Investment Funds




European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) provide EU Member States with financial assistance to deliver the EU2020 strategy of Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, increasing economic activity and employment across the EU.

  • Smart - developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation;

  • Sustainable - promoting a resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy;

  • Inclusive - fostering a high employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion.

The implentation of ESIF in Member States is set out in the EU Common Provisions and underpinned by other European regulations.

The funds are focused on EU priorities in areas such as employment, innovation, education, poverty reduction and climate/energy. They also align with Scottish Government priorities to reduce poverty and social exclusion, boost educational attainment and skills development, grow employment levels, economic activity and innovation, and climate change/renewable energy.

The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF) programmes in Scotland. It has overall responsibility for the implementation, management and effectiveness of funds distributed through the programmes.

Latest News

Business Boost

25 October 2016

European funding for small and medium-sized enterprise.

More than 20,000 businesses will benefit from a £60 million investment, with EU money being used to grow Scotland’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The European Regional Development Fund support will bolster the business growth pipeline, allowing companies to access the help they need to expand. With SMEs accounting for 95% of businesses in Scotland, this funding will target growth through innovation and investment.

Full press release available here.


Winning Ways with Waste

24 October 2016RegioStars winners Ocean

Circular Ocean, a project led by the University of Highlands and Islands (UHI), has been announced winner of the Public Choice Award at the European Commission’s RegioStars 2016 Awards.

The awards identify good practices in regional development and highlight original and innovative projects which could be inspiring to other regions. Winning this award has put the spotlight on Circular Ocean as being one of the most innovative EU funded projects.

Engagement with the European Union (EU) has always been at the heart of the development of the University of the Highlands and Islands, whether in terms of financial investment or collaborative work with partners in other member states.

The winning project aims to inspire remote communities to realise the economic opportunities of discarded fish nets and ropes by turning this marine waste into a useful resource. Circular Ocean is not only tackling the problem of marine waste but is supporting Scotland’s move to a more circular economy.

North Highland College UHI have been involved in many excellent EU initiatives over the years and are delighted to receive recognition for their outstanding work in the Circular Ocean project.


EU Referendum

Saltire and EU flag27 June 2016

Following the EU Referendum, the Scottish Government continues to deliver the European Social Fund and European Regional Development Fund programmes.

To date the Scottish Government has committed £236 million of grants to Lead Partners under the current programmes. Benefits of these investments include:

  • Support for over 2000 businesses to grow;

  • 7500 new jobs;

  • The development of industry-specific skills for over 3500 people;

  • 400km of new cycle paths;

  • Support for 200 low-carbon projects;

  • Support for over 50,000 people with multiple employment barriers into work or training;

  • Help for 17,000 unemployed young people to secure work or education;

  • Support to grow 150 social enterprises.

Lead Partners seeking funding for Operations should submit completed applications to the Managing Authority by 31 July 2016. The Scottish Government will assess these applications and advise on outcomes by the end of September 2016.

Regular updates about the ERDF and ESF programmes will continue to be provided here and on the Scottish Government's EU Referendum page.


RegioStars AwardsRegiostars Logo

14 March 2016

The European Commission is seeking applications for the RegioStars Awards 2016. The awards honour Europe's most inspiring and innovative regional development projects in five separate categories: Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, CityStar and Effective Management. For further information including how to apply, visit the EC website. The deadline for applications is 15th April 2016.



Manufacturing plan to boost industryTitan Crane Clydebank

15 February 2016

£70 million for manufacturing and the circular economy.

Bespoke support and a new Centre of Excellence to help Scotland’s manufacturers innovate and expand have been announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The funding, including £30 million from the European Regional Development Fund, will enable companies to capture new opportunities presented by a move to a more circular economy. Read the full press release here.

Find out more about the Circular Economy Accelerator Programme here.


£60 million to boost youth employment

14 February 2016

Young people in South West Scotland to benefit from new jobs drive.

A £60 million programme to support young people in South West Scotland into secure and sustainable employment has been launched today.

The funding is from the European Commission’s Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) which aims to tackle high levels of youth unemployment across the European Union. Full press release available here.

Read more about the Youth Employment Initiative here.




Working with Scotland's Smart Cities

13 November 2015Working in Partnership

Investment of £4 million secures £40 million in return.

Scottish Government investment in cities is delivering tenfold, with £4 million bringing £40 million in return, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has revealed.

Read more about the Smart Cities initiative here.




Programme Updates


Scottish Government secures funding guarantee for projects

Scottish Government has secured agreement from UK Ministers to guarantee all Structural Funds projects which are approved and have offers of grant agreed by the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, which is usually toward the end of November or early December. Read more.


Strategic Intervention & Operation Application Deadlines

Latest date for submission of Strategic Interventions to be considered in October 2016 MAAP is 14 September 2016

Latest date for submission of Operation Applications to be considered in November 2016 MAAP is 12 October 2016


Spaces still available for ESIF Claims Training Sessions

Spaces are still available for the Claims training sessions due to take place this month.  The training will include an overview of the claims process, verifications, the change control process and EUMIS.  Sessions will run from 10am to 3pm. Read More.


Operation application approvals issued and next MAAP dates set

The Managing Authority Approval Panel (MAAP) met in March 2016 to consider over 120 Operation applications. Offer of Grant letters, or confirmation of approvals, have now been issued to successful applicants. Read more.


Work to finalise claims and verifications process nears completion

The claims and verification processes are currently being finalised with the Audit Authority. Many of the established principles on retention and availability of documents, and checks on State Aid and procurement compliance, will continue. Read more.


EC seeking view on European Social Fund                                                     

The European Commission is running an open public consultation as part of the 2007-2013 European Social Fund ex-post evaluation. Read more.


Dates set for completion of 2014-2020 Operation Applications

Dates have now been set for the Managing Authority Approval Panels to process Operation Applications.

The completion dates are later than originally planned due to new audit and compliance requirements which were introduced following the suspension of funding under the 2007-2013 programmes. Read more.


Commission considers 2015 Annual Control Report as work progresses towards lifting of Suspensions

The European Commission is currently considering the 2015 Annual Control Report submitted by the Audit Authority as part of the annual European Structural and Investment Fund audit activity. Read more.

Case Study

The Apex Ascend ProgrammeDonny working with staff member David McNulty completing the Abriachan Forest Trail

Apex Scotland works with prisoners, ex-offenders and people at risk of offending, providing training and education to support behaviour change and enable recipients to lead fulfilling lives.

Since 2012 the Apex Ascend Programme has used more than £400,000 from the European Social Fund to support over 350 individuals.

Donnie was homeless and frequently in trouble with the police. Find out how he turned his life around through the Apex Ascend project.