PART 7: HORIZONTAL THEMES
1. In addition to thematic concentration, common and fund specific regulations and Commission expectations, there are also Horizontal Themes which apply to all EU funding programmes. As one of the key lessons learned from 2007-13 is how important, and sometime difficult, it is to retain a focus on these, Scottish Government would like to plan them into the Programmes from the start. They have formed part of the assessment of the proposals listed in Part 5; and this section sets out the approach to each of them in more detail.
Promotion of equality between men and women, non-discrimination and accessibility
2. The Scottish Programmes will have a "twin-track" or dual approach to promoting and mainstreaming equality, including gender equality, non-discrimination and accessibility by combining scope for positive action through discrete projects which have a focus on addressing inequalities; and mainstreaming - a requirement that all funded projects evidence they address equality, non-discrimination and accessibility in their project activity. Mainstreaming involves developing operating methods, procedures and practices to ensure funded activities promote equality.
3. In addition to the promotion of positive action projects which specifically tackle inequality, discrimination and accessibility in the labour market, entrepreneurship, R&D and training, an equality perspective will be mainstreamed into Programme planning, preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
Equalities Impact Assessment
4. The public sector has a duty to assess the impact of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice on equality groups. Equality legislation covers a number of protected characteristics including age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief.
5. An Equality Impact Assessment aims to consider how a policy may impact, either positively or negatively, on different sectors of the population in different ways.
6. An EQIA is being conducted for the European Structural Fund Programmes 2014-2020. We are keen to know your views on whether you think that the proposals and implementation of the European Structural Fund programmes will have a positive or negative impact on not only the protected characteristic but in terms of the wider issues of inclusion and participation.
7. If you think they may have a negative impact, we would also be grateful for suggestions as to what could be done differently to diminish that impact.
8. Scottish Natural Heritage has carried out a study on Mainstreaming Environmental Sustainability into EU Funds. The report acknowledged that Scotland adopted a comprehensive approach to sustainable development in current and previous Structural Funds programmes. This has involved integrating Sustainable Development in programme and project design, implementation and evaluation.
9. It is recognised that there is a need to continue mainstreaming and ensure that sustainability does not simply form a bolt-on to supported interventions and projects. The report provides recommendations on what could be done differently to enhance this horizontal theme.
10. The report is broadly positive about the planned approach. For example, fewer larger structural fund project will allow more effort to build Environmental Sustainability and other Horizontal Themes into each one from the start, while continuing delivery through smaller organisations should allow flexibility and innovation in the detailed project and sub-project design. The move to unit costing and an outcome based approach should also mean that there is more focus on monitoring performance against Horizontal Themes, including qualitative measures.
11. The Scottish Government has a high level commitment toward achieving multiple benefits through mainstreaming sustainable development and achieving this ambition is one of the principle outcomes of the programmes. We have a real opportunity to do this and, with a programme designed around fewer, larger projects where SD can be integrated at the design stage and within project specific targets, we can build this in from the start.
12. We would welcome views for improving the processes for design, procurement, delivery, monitoring and evaluation to strengthen delivery of Sustainable Development.