Europe 2020: Scottish National Reform Programme 2016

This report sets out the actions being undertaken in Scotland in support of the delivery of the Europe 2020 ambitions.

Chapter 7: Next Steps

All parts of Scotland have an important role to play in achieving the vision of Europe 2020 - including the public sector, businesses, trade unions, the third sector and our communities. Working constructively and cooperatively with all of our partners in Scotland and in Europe is essential for achieving these goals.

The Scottish Government is strongly supportive of the ambitions of Europe 2020. As this National Reform Programme highlights, Scotland plays a distinctive role in developments at both the National and European level across a number of policy areas, which contribute to delivering growth that is smarter, more sustainable and more inclusive.

Below, we have set out an overview of the next steps for Scotland's engagement in Europe 2020.

In the European Union

The Scottish Government will continue to engage with the EU Institutions in the development of the Europe 2020 Strategy. We are committed to working closely and constructively with EU in pursuit of the Europe 2020 ambitions, as outlined in Scotland's Action Plan for EU Engagement.

The Scottish NRP 2016 has been submitted to the European Commission, to complement and expand on the Scottish contribution in the UK NRP. The Scottish NRP has been developed to highlight the distinct approach being pursued in Scotland to support delivery of the Europe 2020 ambitions. Scottish Government officials will continue to work with officials of the European Commission throughout the European Semester process.

In Scotland

Stakeholder engagement is essential to the Scottish Government's policy development process. This NRP has been produced with valuable input from a range of stakeholders from the public, private and third sectors in Scotland. The contributions of stakeholders will be fully considered in our approach to achieving the ambitions set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy, and we will continue to engage with them throughout this annual cycle.

In the UK

The Scottish Government will continue to work with the UK Government in addressing the Country-Specific Recommendations made on the basis of the National Reform Programmes, as well as contributing to the UK's annual National Reform Programme.

The Scottish Government will continue to engage early and constructively with the UK Government to influence EU policies and programmes which can support our ambition of making Scotland a more successful country with opportunities for all to flourish through increasing sustainable economic growth.

Scotland's Action Plan for EU Engagement

The Scottish Government's refreshed Action Plan for EU Engagement [79] sets out our aims for broader engagement in the EU and has since been the central pillar of the Scottish Government's activity in Europe. The Action Plan should be considered in the context of the Scottish Government's new International Framework, also released in March 2015, which has the EU at its core.

Scotland's Action Plan for EU Engagement has four key policy objectives:

  • Committed Partner: We will remain a committed European actor, making the case for our place in Europe, and working to enhance Scotland's voice within the EU.
  • EU Reform: We will promote effective and meaningful EU reform within the framework of the existing EU treaties for the benefit of Scotland and the entire territory of the EU.
  • Active Participation: We will work to secure investment, innovation and inclusive growth to support the delivery of Scotland's Economic Strategy.
  • Strengthening Partnerships: We will strengthen our relationships with European partners to develop and deliver mutually beneficial outcomes, policies and programmes in pursuit of our objectives.

European Funding

European Funding plays an important role in unlocking development and stimulating economic growth in Scotland. These funds have played, and continue to play, a crucial role in supporting sustainable economic growth in Scotland by supporting infrastructure investment, improving business support and providing training and job opportunities.

To achieve the ambitions of Europe 2020, the €941 million of ERDF and ESF funding allocated to Scotland have been refocused to address immediate issues holding back areas of potential development such as youth unemployment; and on creating long-term conditions to support and enable Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive growth:

  • Smart: developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation;
  • Sustainable: promoting a more resource-efficient, greener and more competitive economy; and
  • Inclusive: fostering a high employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion.

In order to deliver the step change needed to address the long-term challenges to growth, we are moving away from the use of small and separate grant-funded projects, in favour of larger-scale programmes.

Over 2014-20 European Structural Funds will be delivered through Strategic Interventions - programmes of work of significant scale and defined scope which will align with and help shift the focus on domestic policy. These strategic interventions will be managed and co-financed by Lead Partners, typically the existing organisations and legal vehicles which already manage domestic funding in the same policy area. This strategy means that Scotland will be able to use EU funding to align with and gradually shift domestic funding towards new and transformational policy development, which might otherwise struggle for funding.

The three strategic themes apply across all Member States and in Scotland they complement the priorities of Scotland's Economic Strategy.


The Scottish Government supports the ambition and priorities of Europe 2020 to deliver smarter, more sustainable and more equitable growth over the period to 2020. This is demonstrated by the close alignment between Europe 2020 and Scotland's Economic Strategy, and the recent launch of our Action Plan for EU Engagement.

This NRP has set out the distinct actions being undertaken in Scotland in support of the delivery of the Europe 2020 ambitions and the seven 'flagship initiatives'. These initiatives cover areas including innovation, the digital economy, employment, youth, industrial policy, poverty and resource efficiency. This NRP also sets out where the Scottish Government is taking action, within the powers available to it, against the European Commission's CSRs provided to the UK.

As highlighted throughout this report, actions from all across Scotland are contributing to the delivery of Europe 2020, with stakeholder involvement playing a crucial role. The Scottish Government will carry on working with stakeholders to ensure that Scotland continues to make a significant contribution to deliver the Europe 2020 ambition of smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable growth.


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