European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) Programmes, also known as Interreg, have been a strand of EU Cohesion Policy supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the past 30 years. These programmes fund projects in which people from different countries come together to solve shared problems and develop innovative ideas. These projects cover a wider range of topics, contributing to a number of different Scottish Government policy priorities, with projects ranging from supporting people with Alzheimer’s living in rural areas, to enabling businesses to develop innovative solutions in renewable energy. The majority of priorities of ETC programmes fall under devolved competencies.
Within ETC there are three strands
- Interreg V-A – Cross Border Programmes
- Interreg V-B – Transnational Programmes
- Interreg V-C – Pan European Programmes
Scotland is currently part of one cross border programme (Interreg VA – United Kingdom-Ireland (Ireland-Northern Ireland-Scotland)), four Transnational Programmes (The Atlantic Area, North West Europe, North Sea Region and Northern Periphery and Arctic) and two Pan European Programmes (Interreg Europe and URBACT).
A total of 75 Scottish organisations have and are participating in 198 territorial cooperation projects across ETC programmes in the current programming period. To date, they have been awarded around £70 million under the 2014-2020 programmes. The biggest recipients of ERDF awards are the private sector (30%), followed by higher and further education institutions (28%), then Scottish Government and agencies (23%), Local Authorities (11%) and; NGO (7%).
In the 2016 referendum on the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the EU, Scotland clearly and decisively voted to Remain. The Scottish Government values the joint work done with our European neighbours and we are therefore committed to continued participation in ETC, along with a number of other EU Programmes which greatly benefit many sections of Scottish society.
As the current programmes come to a close we wished to inform our own thinking on the design of the future programmes (2021-2027), so that we can work together with partner countries in the programmes to meet our shared needs. In the Third Quarter of 2019 the Scottish Government ran four workshops throughout Scotland to understand stakeholder views on priorities for the next programming period and ways that the programmes could be improved. The findings from these workshops were reported in European Territorial Cooperation in Scotland Post 2020 report which was published in October 2019.
Following this, the Scottish Government took the decision to launch an online consultation to further inform our position on the post 2020 programmes. This report details the responses to this consultation which ran from 10th January 2020 to 24th April 2020.
There were a total of 21 responses to the consultation, largely from representative organisations, public sector organisations, including local authorities, and business support organisations. A breakdown of this can be seen in Figure 1. A majority of respondents had been involved in at least one programme, as shown in Figure 2.
This report will look at respondents views on each programme as well as views on the administration of the programmes in general. It will then briefly touch on the potential for Scottish participation in ETC in light of the UK leaving the EU.