If the UK leaves the EU it will no longer receive European Structural Funds. The purpose of these funds is to “invest in job creation and a sustainable and healthy European economy and environment.”. In Scotland, they have played a vital role in reducing disparities between different parts of the country for over 40 years.
Under the current 2014-2020 programmes, Scotland benefits from over £780 million of funding through the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund, which invest in key policies such as our Modern Apprenticeship schemes and our Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme. The loss of this funding will have a significant impact on the ability of local authorities, community groups, funding bodies and enterprise and skills agencies to deliver the kinds of initiatives that will drive inclusive economic growth and promote wellbeing and cohesion in communities right across the country. The UK Government has indicated its intention to provide successor funding to European Structural Funds following EU-Exit but without detail as yet on the scale, objectives and allocation of such funding.
In this context, the Scottish Government is conducting a consultation to seek views on how any replacement funding vehicle could best meet the needs of our citizens, our businesses and our communities. Whilst we are aware that there is a range of European funds that support communities and activities across Scotland, including rural development and fisheries, this consultation focuses on the policy space that is currently addressed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund. The following paper sets out the context for the consultation and the objectives of the exercise.