1. Foreword from the Minister
As Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, I am proud to introduce this booklet to celebrate and mark the official final year of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Fund programmes.
While the featured case studies only provide a brief glimpse of the achievements of the programmes, hopefully it will shine a light on the many different ways in which the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) have benefitted Scotland’s economy and society.
From an unemployed young person learning new skills to an innovative entrepreneur receiving vital seed funding, the 2014-2020 programmes have improved the lives and livelihoods of many individuals.
Thanks to ESF and ERDF support, we have been able to support significant national initiatives like apprenticeships, as well as smaller local community-based projects. Running throughout the programmes has been our commitment to the environment, backing low-carbon solutions in transport, energy and business.
Though 2020 is the final year of the programmes on paper, due to their long-term and complex nature, the Scottish Government will continue to allocate grant payments to Lead Partners to deliver operations until 2023.
This continuous support over the next three years will help boost smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in our country, and seek to mitigate the adverse effects of Scotland having to leave the EU with the UK. The funding will also help local communities to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created both a health and an economic crisis.
Until now, Scotland has been able to decide for itself how and where we direct this vital funding. This has allowed us to ensure ESF and ERDF projects have fulfilled our priorities and addressed our distinct needs and interests, bringing the full benefits of the funds to our citizens and communities all across the country.
Scotland’s long and proud participation in the European Structural and Investment Funds programmes demonstrates the international, outward-facing nature of our nation. It remains a deep disappointment that we will not be able to play our full part in the European Commission’s 2021- 2027 programmes.
However, we can look back with pride at all that we have achieved since 2014. From my own visits to ESF and ERDF projects, which have ranged from inner-city charities to innovative tech companies, I know that their outcomes have been truly remarkable and will be long-lasting.
These outcomes have been achieved thanks to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in delivering projects supported by the funds. I look forward with anticipation to discovering what else our Lead Partners, delivery agents and beneficiaries are able to achieve in the remainder of the programmes.
I hope you enjoy reading this booklet.
Ivan McKee MSP
Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation