Publication - Consultation responses

European Structural Funds: 2014-2020 analysis of consultation responses

Published: 12 Aug 2013
Economic Development Directorate
Part of:
Business, industry and innovation

An overview of responses to the first European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) 2014 to 2020 consultation.

21 page PDF

589.0 kB

21 page PDF

589.0 kB

European Structural Funds: 2014-2020 analysis of consultation responses

21 page PDF

589.0 kB


Partnership Agreement

1. Partnership Agreements will set out how Member States will invest Structural Funds to meet European ambitions. Scotland will have its own chapter in the UK Partnership Agreement which will enable us to set out the specific challenges and opportunities in Scotland which might not apply in the rest of the UK.

Question 1 - Are there other areas you think the Partnership Agreement should address?

2. 68 respondents addressed this question.

3. Overall, the majority of responses supported the plans for and focus of the Scottish Chapter of the Partnership Agreement. Respondents requested clarification on a number of issues and made recommendations on areas that should be included in the actual draft of the Partnership Agreement but had been omitted from the consultation paper.


4. Below is a list of the key policy points raised by respondents:

  • beneficial for the Partnership Agreement to reference or set out how the ESI funds will be integrated and dovetail with other EU funding streams - such as Horizon 2020 or ERASMUS;
  • beneficial for there to be references to the EU cross border programmes and territorial co-operation themes;
  • beneficial to reference other EU funded interventions that will be supported through Regional Aid Guidelines;
  • beneficial to reference health and wellbeing agenda and set out how the ESI funds will be invested to reduce inequalities such as health, income, employment, social and educational;
  • a recognition of importance of parents/women's employment opportunities and reflection on increased awareness in importance of childcare infrastructure, including school aged children;
  • further information on how ESI funds could support active ageing; and
  • clarification on how environmental issues will be addressed


5. It is important that lessons are learned from the current programmes. Respondents have requested for flexibility to be built into the Partnership Agreement in order for interventions to be quickly refined in response to changing climates.

6. It is also thought by respondents that all delivery options should be open for consideration and the Partnership Agreement should enable this process by mentioning all regulatory delivery models available, for example Joint Action Plans, Community Led Local Development.

7. A number of respondents have requested further information on the roles and responsibilities of different sectors in the development and implementation of the new programmes. It is thought that the proposals could lead to reduced engagement with the some Local Authorities, the Third Sector and smaller organisations. One recurring request (16 mentions) was for clarification on the relationship between the ESI funds and other EU funding streams.

8. Furthermore, respondents would welcome clarification on how integration between the Scottish Themed Funds, and the Strategic Delivery Partnerships, will be ensured.

National and Local Requirements

9. A number of respondents think that the Partnership Agreement needs to recognise the different challenges at a national and local level and that a balance between top level and bottom level development must be achieved.

10. While there was a broad recognition that there won't be a separate Operational Programme for the Highlands and Islands, further information on the delivery and funding arrangements for this area as a transition region would be welcomed.

Thematic Objectives

11. The consultation suggested the most appropriate thematic objectives - based on previous consultations on the broad priorities Scotland needs to address using these funds and considerable baseline analysis of needs and opportunities in Scotland. It was proposed that the thematic objectives for Scotland would be:

  • R&D&I;
  • ICT;
  • SME competitiveness;
  • Low carbon;
  • Environmental protection and resource efficiency;
  • Labour market mobility;
  • Social inclusion; and
  • Skills and lifelong learning.

Question 2 - Do you think these thematic objectives will best address Scotland's short-term and long-term challenges?

12. 75 respondents answered this question as follows:



Agree with proposals



Partially agree






Commentary Only




13. A number of respondents thought that the new focus on social inclusion is important in order to reduce the widening inequalities in Scottish society. For example, they highlighted the need for more support for children's early learning and development as it may reduce inequality and increase parental labour market participation, or initiatives that will address the underlying wellbeing of the workforce.

14. Furthermore, while there is significant demand for interventions to focus on youth employment some consideration needs to be given to active ageing and how older generations in rural and remote areas can contribute to the workforce. Some respondents also requested further support for business competitiveness and highlighted that there should be support for SMEs to exploit their products.

15. Requests for clarification on how the proposed thematic objectives will address environmental issues following the announcement that sustainable transport or climate change adaptation may not be selected, were made. One respondent also advised that it would be beneficial for the thematic objectives to be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they remain aligned to economic needs and opportunities.


16. Concerns regarding duplication across the funds and engagement with the education sector (particularly schools) and the public sector (notably the health service) were raised.

17. Requests for clarification on what will be classed as eligible activity were raised. There was also a request for further collaboration between the higher education sector, the public and voluntary sector and industry in order to improve the structure and impact of projects.

18. While there is support for flexibility to ensure that the thematic objectives are aligned with local requirements, out of 75 respondents, 4 requested separate thematic objectives for the Highlands and Islands area in order to recognise the development needs and opportunities of this area.

Question 3 - Do you think there are any other thematic objectives which should be addressed?

19. 71 respondents addressed this question of which 33 said that sustainable transport should be addressed; 14 said capacity building should be addressed; and 8 said climate change adaptation should be addressed.

20. It was suggested that inequalities should be considered as a horizontal theme and applicants could demonstrate how their project will reduce inequalities at application stage. In addition, there was a request for a specific objective which would address the growing disparity in expectations between urban and rural Scotland (for example a thematic objective which supports Community Led Local Development such as 'Rural Regeneration or Rural Opportunities') and there were also requests to widen access to childcare.

21. One respondent explained that it would be beneficial for further information on how those thematic objectives not selected will be addressed to ensure that the challenges in these areas are not ignored.

Integration Strategy

22. The consultation paper set out proposals for the financial allocations to 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.

23. 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 wellbeing and resilience of all Scotlands communities. The intention is that activity supported by the EU funds is coherent and complementary and will minimise duplication of funding and delivery arrangements.

Question 4 - Do you think the Scottish Themed Funds will address Scotland's key challenges?

24. 74 respondents address this question as follows:



Agree with proposals



Partially Agree






Commentary Only



25. Overall, respondents think that the proposals are broad enough to address Scotlands key challenges and the Scottish Themed Funds will effectively combine four funding streams. However, given the limited resources the impact they have may be less than anticipated.

26. Although the proposals will address Scotland's national key challenges there needs to be some flexibility in order to address local issues. There have also been requests for health and wellbeing to be included as an example under the Local Development and Social Inclusion fund.

27. Some respondents have requested clarification on what will be classed as eligible activity under each fund and how support could be targeted towards 30 - 34 year olds. There have also been requests for flexibility to refine specific activities under each Scottish Themed Fund.

28. While two respondents disagreed that the Highlands and Islands share the same challenges as the rest of Scotland, another respondent was encouraged to note that the Operational Programmes will set out the specific requirements for transition regions.

29. The respondents that disagree think that the division of funding into three themed funds presents the risk of one fund being oversubscribed and that the lion's share of the funds will go towards large projects that look good for European Auditors and will fail to address Scotland's key challenges. These respondents have advised that in order for the proposals to work there must be consistency in how the ESI funds are implemented and simplification in process - for example one application form across all ESI funds.