FUTURE OF THE FUNDS
The Scottish Government has a clear purpose to create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. European Structural Funds have played a pivotal role in supporting the Scottish economy and they have underpinned many of the actions the Scottish Government have taken forward in their Economic Recovery Plan.
European Commission’s Proposals
In October 2011, the European Commission adopted a draft legislative package that will frame the EU cohesion policy for the period 2014 – 2020. These proposals contain a number of new concepts, for example 11 thematic objectives which all EU Funds must focus on, a tighter alignment with Europe 2020, and a Partnership Agreement that will set out the key activities for Structural, Cohesion, Rural Development and Fisheries Funds, and how that activity will deliver Europe 2020 aims of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Furthermore, the Commission have published a Simplification Agenda to underpin the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Fund regulations. This agenda should ensure the smooth delivery of policies and a better, less administratively burdensome, experience for fund beneficiaries. The full impact of simplification will only be realised if all authorities involved in the implementation of the future programmes play a key role in ensuring that good practices are adopted and the administrative set up at national and regional level are not unnecessarily over complicated. These principles are reflected in our proposals for how to deliver the ESI Funds in Scotland.
The Commission have set out the following expectations for Structural Fund investment in a UK position paper:
Scotland needs to use Structural Funds to address both long-term challenges which could hold back development, protect and improve our environment and develop future opportunities for growth.
This means that the future Scottish Structural Fund programmes will tie together better skills and business development for greater competitiveness and more and local employment opportunities; focus on commercialising a world class research base, and use financial instruments to support major infrastructure ambitions as well as business finance.