We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

European Structural Funds Strategy

Strategy, Governance and Delivery



In order to ensure that all Member States contribute to the Europe 2020 targets of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth each EU fund programme must have a significant impact on jobs and growth during a period of prolonged economic difficulty. The activities of all the funds must complement each other and work in conjunction with other EU funding streams.

Although Scotland will have separate Operational Programmes for each ESI fund, the financial allocations will be made to schemes, programmes and projects through three Scottish Themed Funds:

  • Competitiveness, innovation and jobs;
  • Low carbon, resource efficiency and the environment; and
  • Local development and social inclusion.

By using the Scottish Themed Funds we will ensure that we concentrate on interventions which together will have the greatest impact for Scotland, the greatest push towards Europe 2020 targets, and best address the development needs of Scotland. The intention is that activity supported by the EU funds is coherent and complementary, and minimises duplication of funding and delivery arrangements. The objective of the Scottish Themed Funds is to collectively support genuine long term change in the skills base, in the growth ambitions of Scottish SMEs, in energy consumption, in land use, and in the well-being and resilience of all of Scotland's communities.


All ESI funds will be held to account through the Scottish Chapter of the Partnership Agreement. This will also contain the objectives for the funds and how much resource from each ESI Fund has been allocated to the Scottish Themed Funds and what outcomes are expected. In addition, the individual Operational Programmes will set out the reporting, evaluation, compliance, verification, audit and payment requirements.

Projects or schemes of projects (referred to as operations) which are eligible for ESI Funds will be owned by Lead Partners who will provide the initial match funding , but may deliver operations directly, contract delivery or enter into partnerships. Monitoring of these operations will be done by Strategic Delivery Partnerships (SDPs) which will ensure that they are complementary and that various interventions are performing and making a measurable contribution to the Europe 2020 targets.

For coherence across the Scottish Themed Funds there will be a single Partnership Agreement Monitoring Committee (PAMC), replacing past separate programme monitoring committees. The PAMC will oversee:

  • Performance – monitoring progress towards outcomes, targets and milestones, and continually assessing the contribution to EU 2020;
  • Complementarity – of the programmes and schemes in operation, with the ability to recommend changes to the SDPs, and to the Operational Programmes if required; and
  • Implementation and mainstreaming of horizontal themes, ensuring that European Funded activity contributes to equality and sustainability.

SDPs are being established around the three Scottish Themed Funds and, through facilitated discussions, will determine a limited set of priorities which will deliver a measurable impact against the Europe 2020 targets, and which will form the basis of the Operational Programmes and Partnership Agreement. The SDPs have three key responsibilities:

  1. Help shape the Operational Programmes by deciding what operations to fund;
  2. Ensure funding stability through the lifetime of the funding period by providing the initial match funding for agreed operations; and
  3. Be accountable for the impact of the Structural Fund operations.

In the long term these partnerships are likely to be an integral part of the governance of the Scottish programmes ensuring focus is maintained on achieving the most significant impacts for Scotland.

Each partnership will have:

  • A chair – who will be a policy lead with a strong interest in using EU funds to deliver on Scottish national and local priorities;
  • Lead partners – agencies of a scale and legal structure to propose, front, match fund and be accountable for significant strategic interventions under each theme; and
  • Focus partners – drawn from sectorial and representative stakeholders whose influence will ensure proposals cover the broad range of interest in each theme.

As the SDPs are currently operating in shadow their initial membership is likely to adapt as they progress.

The first three SDP meetings (due to be held in June, July and August) will focus on discussing and agreeing on proposals for operations to be funded under the new programmes.