2. Current EU Funding In Scotland
2.1 European Funding Programmes in Scotland
The current allocation of Scotland’s Structural Funds is based on the principles of Europe 2020, which is the European Union’s 10-year plan to advance the economy of the EU through smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. In Scotland, the EU regional investment goals of Europe 2020 are delivered through the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund.
The European Regional Development Fund aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion by correcting imbalances between regions, whilst the European Social Fund seeks to help people improve their lives by learning new skills and finding better jobs. These funds are being used to:
- improve employment opportunities;
- make Scotland more competitive in business;
- ensure our cities are healthy and sustainable;
- build a sustainable, low-carbon Scotland;
- tackle poverty and inequality;
- increase digital connectivity.
The planned achievements envisaged at the start of the programme included:
- support for enterprises to undertake research or innovation;
- support for Small to Medium Sized Enterprises to enhance their competitiveness;
- investment in transformative Information and Communication Technology infrastructure projects in the Highlands and Islands;
- funding for projects to drive the low carbon economy;
- help for organisations and enterprises to preserve and protect the environment;
- enhanced employment opportunities for people with multiple barriers to employment;
- assistance for disadvantaged people from workless, lone parent or low-income households;
- aid for deprived or fragile communities.
2.2 Current Funding Process
The Scottish Government distributes these funds to lead partners, such as Scottish Government policy directorates, enterprise and skills agencies, local authorities and other public bodies. The lead partners facilitate delivery agents and organisations to implement projects.
Figure 1: Process of Structural Funds Decisions
2.3 EU priorities for 2021-27
The European Union is currently negotiating the budgetary and policy framework for European Structural Funds in 2021-27 with five overarching objectives for future EU funding:
1. a Smarter Europe, through innovation, digitisation, economic transformation and support to small and medium-sized businesses;
2. a Greener, carbon free Europe, implementing the Paris Agreement and investing in energy transition, renewables and the fight against climate change;
3. a more Connected Europe, with strategic transport and digital networks;
4. a more Social Europe, delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights and supporting quality employment, education, skills, social inclusion and equal access to healthcare;
5. a Europe closer to citizens, by supporting locally-led development strategies and sustainable urban development across the EU.