The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) provide financial assistance at the regional level to strengthen competitiveness and increase employment and are the programmes via which much of local government’s economic regeneration activity has been focused. The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the Structural Funds and is responsible for the implementation, management and effectiveness of the programmes.

Activity is delivered via the following programmes:

  • European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
  • European Social Fund (ESF)
  • European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)
  • Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP, including LEADER)

European Regional Development Fund

ERDF supports projects which reinforce economic, social and territorial cohesion by tackling regional imbalances through sustainable development and the structural adjustment of regional economies. The amount available to Scottish projects for 2014-20 is €476,788,331.

ERDF will focus on five key areas:

  1. Research, technological development and innovation;
  2. Improved access and quality of digital communication technology, particularly in rural areas;
  3. Increasing the competitiveness of Scottish SMEs;
  4. Support for activity to further develop a low-carbon economy;
  5. Environmental protection and resource efficiency.

European Social Fund (ESF)

ESF aims to promote high levels of unemployment and job quality, improve access to the labour market, to facilitate workers’ adaption to industrial change and production systems, encourage high levels of training and education for all, combat poverty, enhance social inclusion and to promote equal opportunities. The amount available to Scottish projects for 2014-20 is €464,149,373.

ESF will provide investment focusing on four strategic funding priorities:

  1. Promotion of Labour Market Mobility;
  2. Promoting Social Inclusion and Combating Poverty;
  3. Investing in Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning;
  4. Youth Employment Initiative

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)

EMFF is focused on measures which can support the management and protection of the marine environment, including the implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the discard ban. In particular, the fund seeks to support coastal communities, and marine research and the environment. Funding is also available for aquaculture, fish processors and Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs). For more information, please see the Marine Scotland factsheet.

EMFF is structured around four pillars:

  1. Smart, green fisheries,
  2. Smart, green aquaculture,
  3. Sustainable and inclusive territorial development
  4. Integrated maritime policy.

Scottish Rural Development Programme (including LEADER)

The Scottish Rural Development Programme delivers Pillar 2 of the Common Agricultural Policy and funds economic, environmental and social measures for the benefit of rural Scotland. The key objective is to help achieve sustainable economic growth in rural areas. The LEADER programme is funded via the SRDP, and is a bottom-up, partnership-based approach driven by public-private partnerships within Local Action Groups (LAGs). For more information, please see the Scottish Government’s website.

SRDP’s main priorities are:

  1. Enhancing the rural economy
  2. Supporting agricultural and forestry businesses
  3. Protecting and improving the natural environment
  4. Addressing the impact of climate change
  5. Supporting rural communities