European Structural Funds 2014-2020 consultation document

Update on the proposals for the Partnership Agreement and operational programmes of the 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).


1. A key change to the regulatory framework for 2014-20 is the need for all ESI Funds to complement each other - to be planned together, to avoid overlap and duplication, and to achieve more collectively than they could separately. Whilst this document is presenting the likely focus of Structural Funds, these have been planned in conjunction with developments on the rural ( EAFRD), fisheries ( EMFF), and territorial co-operation ( ETC) funds; as well as being planned against emerging information about the Commission-held funds such as Horizon 2020, ERASMUS, the fund for social innovation and COSME.

2. The sections below set out the focus for the rural and fisheries funds; the general fit with the way the territorial co-operation programmes are developing; and some thoughts on how the mainstream funds align with major EU funding instruments. Stakeholder comments are welcome to help us develop this thinking further.


3. The Rural Fund plays a significant role in environmental protection and improvement, and in the development and sustainability of rural communities. There is significant cross over on SME competitiveness, where similar forms of support could be offered, using EAFRD, to the food and drink sector and to rural micro and small businesses; and on skills development, where the Social Fund will be able to support the development of advanced and modern apprenticeships in land-based and rural sectors (including forestry), as well as more advanced qualifications for the next generation of land managers.

4. There is complementarity in resource efficiency, with EAFRD also offering advice with a narrower sectoral focus. And there is complementarity in protecting the environment, where EAFRD's focus on the natural environment allows ERDF to focus in more on urban areas.

5. The likely scope of activities under the EAFRD are:

Alignment with SME competitiveness proposal: Food and Drink sector support; and rural micro and small business development

Alignment of skills and workforce development: Non formal vocational skills provided via EAFRD; formal rural sector qualifications, modern apprenticeships etc. via ESF.

Agri-environment scheme to address a range of EU/ SG environment and climate obligations - peatland restoration, resource efficiency, biodiversity, water and soil quality

LFASS (Areas of Natural Constraint) Top up payments for land managers in less favoured areas, to support farm viability, protect natural resources and reduce risk of land abandonment

Crofting and small farms Targeted support for crofters and small farmers helping sustain and develop their businesses

Forestry Supporting SG's commitment to plant 10,000 has p/a to protect forest habitats and balance conifer planting for productive timber, and native woodlands to create forest habitats.

Knowledge Transfer Scheme To translate best practice/research into improvements for natural resources through demonstration projects such as monitor farms

Rural advisory service Supports improved farm and land management to protect and enhance Scotland's natural resources through expert advice targeted on farmers and land managers

LEADER A LEADER scheme is required by regulation, local strategies and projects for community development and to meet local priorities

New Entrants Business development support for new farmers; including start-up grants.

European Maritime Fisheries Fund ( EMFF)

6. The regulations for the EMFF have been delayed during negotiation, and so it remains unclear what the precise focus of activity under this fund will be. However, a significant component will continue to be the implementation of Common Fisheries Policy reform, including regulation and monitoring of the fishing industry.

7. As with rural and structural funds, there is likely to be a focus on developing the competitiveness of businesses, focused here particularly on the reform of fisheries policy and on aquaculture. Marine and Structural Fund interests in innovation and in marine energy are also likely to align, with most major scale projects taking place under the ERDF due to the limited scale of the EMFF. And on energy efficiency, EMFF will want to promote whole-chain efficiency, e.g. from fuel to processing for fishing and aquaculture.

8. The Fund will be run under a single UK wide operational Programme, but there is still scope for regionalised management, meaning alignment between the funds could still be achieved.

9. Both EMFF and the EAFRD will have community led local development components, and we expect the local groups and strategies to be aligned, as many of the areas are the same or similar.

European Territorial Cooperation

10. A collective aim of ETC programmes will be to promote equal distribution of R&D and innovation capabilities across the regions to improve competitiveness, growth and investment opportunities. Such joint operations offer the opportunity to improve access to scientific and technical knowledge across borders by fostering better linkages to established R&D facilities and increased access to international centres of excellence in partner regions. They are also effective platforms for the exchange of good practice and establishing cooperative industry-academia networks, and can assist in coordinating activities for raising the international profile of innovation clusters and SME networks, supporting public-private and transnational partnerships, and promoting the innovative use of new and existing knowledge. ETC funds will also support the public sector and associated stakeholders in developing territorial policies for innovation across regions.

11. One area for ETC prioritisation will be to develop inter-regional strategies to exploit the renewable energy potential of the marine and coastal environment. Interventions include joint awareness-raising measures and integrated concepts and action plans to increase energy efficiency and help promote responsible and balanced production and consumption patterns. The transfer of knowledge in alternative and renewable energy management patterns and developing new approaches to efficient and sustainable utilisation of resources will help identify the means to reduce climate change impact at a regional / community level, supported by the development of small scale renewable energy solutions.

12. Scottish stakeholder contributions to ETC actions around the North Sea and Atlantic Strategy align with the Commission's agenda on Blue Growth, with particular participatory strengths in marine environment, offshore renewables and coastal tourism. There is considerable scope for more strategic and coordinated efforts between ETC funds that operate within these sea basin territories, building upon strong, mutually beneficial relationships, shared priorities and common blue growth goals. These funds can be one of the key drivers for governance, policy planning and action setting of blue growth activities with neighbouring maritime regions in areas including: marine research and the protection of the ocean's biodiversity; actions that promote the sustainable use of ocean resources, particularly in the context of blue biotechnology; commercial exploitation of offshore renewables; and increased identification of the opportunities around eco-innovation.

13. ETC funds can also focus on improving the interoperability and intermodality of passenger and freight transport. This includes promoting sustainable transport connections to develop more energy-efficient modes of travel and make more effective use of existing transport infrastructure capacity; one example would be the use of advanced real-time transport and navigation information systems to improve transnational connections to transport flows. Such actions also promote the harmonisation of standards and compatibility of ICT transport technologies across national borders, and widen the ability for replacing physical mobility through virtual exchanges.

14. ETC programme and project partners will continue to work alongside other regional players to deliver positive contributions in support of Europe's active aging agenda, particularly in remote and rural areas where demographic challenges are acutely shared. They are one of the mechanisms for the application of research data to develop innovative on-the-ground actions that help tackle shared societal changes across territorial boundaries. ETC funds will also be utilised to support the uptake of inter-regional digital platforms in addressing interoperability issues, drive usability and acceptance, and facilitate the shared learning from planning and developing targeted ICT services.

15. Valuing the links formed through natural and cultural heritage can enable coastal and rural communities to extend geographical connections and the socio-economic benefits attached to these, and ETC contributions could assist in extending rural and coastal community action plans beyond their local dimension.

Alignment with major EU Funds

16. The new regulatory framework provides many opportunities to work in a complementary manner with a range of instruments, both national and EU. A range of complementary instruments will be used to maximise the benefits of the ESI funds and include, for instance, those associated with the Youth Employment Strategy, Skills for Scotland, Community Empowerment proposals, Digital Scotland 2020, the National Food and Drink Policy, the Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture amongst others.

17. The particular focus on innovation will require full consideration of the opportunities afforded through Horizon 2020. The focus on Scotland's Smart Specialisation Strategy will provide the platform to consider synergies with Horizon 2020 and Creative Europe whilst the focus on SME competitiveness will require exploration of the opportunities through COSME. Resource efficiency is considered a horizontal policy objective for the Scottish Partnership Agreement and the intention is to use LIFE Environment and Climate Action funds to assist in moving this agenda forward. There are many benefits from maximising the use of the Erasmus for All programme especially with the range of skills requirements highlighted throughout this chapter, particularly those to complement the growth sectors and the low carbon transition interventions. Erasmus for All offers great added value to the plans for skills development in Scotland and the learner experience.

18. In relation to coordination, the delivery partnerships involving key stakeholders will require joint working to provide strategic and local responses and solutions and so strengthen coordination and avoid duplication. As highlighted previously, a Partnership Agreement Monitoring Committee will be formed and monitor progress. Furthermore, a one-stop shop is proposed whereby key information easily accessible across all the ESI funds and relevant information on other EU funds such as Horizon 2020 and ETC is available through a single portal. It is envisaged that this portal will also contain information on what is being supported as the Programmes are delivered.


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