Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities
As Cabinet Secretary for Investment, Infrastructure and Cities, I am proud to mark the beginning of Scotland's new European Structural Funds Programmes for 2014-20. These long term, strategic investment programmes are central to creating a cohesive and prosperous European Union, an EU that we in Scotland want to be part of and contribute to.
For more than 50 years European funding has assisted less developed regions of the EU. Nowadays the programme uses almost a third of the overall EU budget and yet retains the same underlying goals set when the funds were first established - to stimulate growth within and across European regions to create a place that is more attractive to invest, live and work in.
The €1.9 billion funding package has been developed around the European Commission's Europe 2020 strategy for achieving long-term economic growth and job creation by focusing on three strategic growth areas - Smart Growth, Sustainable Growth and Inclusive Growth.
- Smart: developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation;
- Sustainable: promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy;
- Inclusive: fostering a high employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion.
The three strategic themes apply across all Member States and in Scotland they complement the priorities of the Scottish Government Economic Strategy which strives to create a more successful country and to improve quality of life for everyone in Scotland.
The investment of European Structural Funds locally and nationally will enable us to translate the themes of Smart Growth into activities to grow Scotland's economy through increased knowledge and innovation, and on the shared ambition of improving education levels and skills development.
On Sustainable Growth the Scottish Government is already working on the transition to a low carbon economy. The drive provided by the European Commission will increase momentum in this area. And on Inclusive Growth the Scottish Government is committed to increasing employment levels and reducing poverty.
The common purpose with which the Scottish Government will administer the 2014-2020 funds programme represents a strengthening both of the relationships we have with our European neighbours and of Scotland's increasingly prominent and important place in Europe.