Part 1 - Ministerial Foreword
I am pleased to present the proposals on the 2014 - 2020 European Structural Fund programmes for your consideration. The European Social Fund and European Regional Development Fund have played a vital role in supporting the Scottish economy.
Across Scotland over £493 million of European Structural Funds have been more than matched by partners under the current programmes. These funds have been used to support projects that provide training and support for individuals to enter employment, provide advice to businesses, boost capital expenditure and improve access to finance.
The European Commission's proposals for the 2014 - 2020 funding period require all European Structural and Investment funds (Structural, Cohesion, Rural Development and Fisheries Funds) to be closely aligned with Europe 2020 goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth - and closely aligned with each other. The way in which we implement the funds also need to reflect the Commission's Simplification Agenda. To reflect this, the consultation covers both the specifics of what should be supported by structural funds, but also the proposals for how the European Structural and Investment ( ESI) Funds can be made to work together in Scotland,.
The design of the new Structural Fund programmes will be crucial for building on Scotland's strengths and will allow us to address our specific weaknesses and achieve the Europe 2020 targets. As a result it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that our efforts are focussed on the key priorities for supporting economic development and sustainability. With this in mind I ask you to consider what the key areas are for the European Structural Funds to focus on, ensuring that we respond well to current and future challenges.
It is also important to note that this is the first time that Structural, Rural Development and Fisheries Fund programmes have been integrated. This will bring with it some significant changes, and some challenges, and it is important that we make sure good projects can still access the right type of funding and support. I would therefore welcome your feedback on the proposals for common governance and delivery arrangements across all the ESI Funds. Please take the time to read and respond to this consultation. Your views will help us ensure that the future programmes meet all of Scotlands key policies priorities and that administrative responsibilities are streamlined. We will take careful note of your responses which will be used to inform a more detailed set of final proposals later this year. We look forward to hearing from you.
Nicola Sturgeon MSP