Scotland’s Participation in Future ETC Programmes and Brexit
Scotland has participated in ETC Programmes for thirty years and has built a number of successful partnerships and networks through this time. These projects have brought a number of benefits to Scotland in areas such as the environment, research and innovation and SME competitiveness.
However, on 31st January 2020 the UK left the EU after the 2016 Referendum where 52% of the UK voted to leave. It is, however, imperative to remember that Scotland voted “overwhelmingly” to remain part of the EU in the 2016 Referendum. As previously noted, a number of non-EU countries participate in ETC such as Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland. As such, even though the UK is no longer a Member State of the EU, we are not necessarily excluded from participating in these programmes.
Brexit will have a considerable impact on Scotland and the UK as a whole. In light of this, continued cooperation in ETC is seen as very important to those who responded to the consultation. A business support organisation in their response to this consultation said that "An inability to participate in INTERREG programmes will make international collaboration more difficult, not because it is less relevant or valuable, but because we are unable to participate in the programmes that facilitate much of that collaboration"
Scottish Enterprise agreed, stating that "As opposed to weakening our commitment to cooperation programmes, current challenges and uncertainties have led to a clearer appreciation of what is gained from European Territorial Cooperation and intensified interest in pursuing opportunities for future collaboration."
However, regrettably, The UK Government recently communicated that they will not participate in ETC in the 2021-2027 programming period bar the Peace PLUS programme between the border counties of Ireland and NI. Because of this, all UK officials, including those in the Devolved Administrations (DA), are no longer able to attend meetings on the preparations of the future programmes, nor are we party to ongoing negotiations over the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) which will determine the level of funding that ETC programmes receive. Notwithstanding the UK Government position, the Devolved Administrations have made clear their shared interest in continuing participation in ETC programmes.
As a result, Scottish Government officials continue to engage with the other DA officials on priorities for the 2021-2027 programmes. We thank all participants for their responses to this consultation and will take all views into account when planning our next steps.