This document reports on the progress Scotland made over the last year towards meeting the targets set out in Europe 2020, the European Union’s ( EU) strategy for delivering, smart, sustainable and inclusive growth over the period to 2020. The UK Government’s intention is to leave the EU in March 2019. If this proves to be Scotland’s case then this report will be the last NRP report published while the UK remains a Member State of the EU.
The Europe 2020 targets relate to:
- Reducing youth unemployment
- Increasing research and development (R&D)
- Meeting climate change ambitions
- Improving education
- Reducing poverty
This document sets out the considerable progress made this year in Scotland in each of these important areas.
The overall purpose of Europe 2020 – to deliver, smart, sustainable and inclusive growth – is closely aligned with the Scottish Government’s strategic purpose of focusing government and public services on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. The document also illustrates the progress made toward this objective.
In setting out this progress the document makes plain the strong correlation between what we are trying to achieve in Scotland and the aims of the European Union, as expressed in Europe 2020. This may also help to explain why the people of Scotland voted decisively to remain in the EU. As the evidence in this report highlights, Scotland is in a stronger position to deliver the ambition of achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth as part of the EU family.
Since the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the Scottish Government has been working to protect the interests of the people of Scotland and minimise the adverse impacts of Brexit. In December 2016 we published ‘ Scotland’s Place in Europe’  , a set of compromise proposals which sought to maintain Scotland and the whole of the UK in the European Single Market and Customs Union. In January 2018 we published. ‘ Scotland’s place in Europe: People, jobs and investment’  which provided detailed analysis on the economic, environmental and wider social benefits for Scotland of retaining membership of the Single Market, as well as the benefits of the free movement of people for Scotland’s demographic needs and sustainable economic growth.
To emphasise the benefits of continuing European Single Market and Customs Union membership, we are also taking the opportunity of this report to outline some of the consequences for Scotland’s economy and society of leaving the EU, and how the progress we have made towards achieving the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy could be undermined by Brexit.