The headline content of the Scottish PA chapter got their world premiere in the launch of the short-life consultation doc – and while you’re looking at them, you might be interested to see what the Commission have made of the Scottish and UK efforts so far.
We (a rather royal term in this case, which includes delegates from four ESI funds and all four UK administrations) met with the Commission in November on the current draft. As with the Strategic Delivery Partnerships, and the proposals outlined in the consultation document, the PA is being structured around ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ headings. Whilst a lot of work has gone into this everywhere in the UK, the Commission would still like greater clarity.
For example, on SME growth, what will be the split of activity and funding between high growth companies and high value added, generic support and innovation-led support? On inclusive growth, how much targeting is intended either geographically or by type of client group? On low carbon, what is the intention around emissions, renewables and resource efficiency? What is the clear and unique contribution of the rural funds, and how does it relate to the ‘greening’ of the direct farming payments? We will be working on the language, but if you have ideas, they would be welcome posted below.
It is also clear that the two structural funds are more prominent throughout the UK PA than the marine and rural funds, and that all therefore have work to do on telling the story of what the funds can achieve collectively. In this context, you might like to take a look at and respond to the consultation for the rural funds in Scotland too – it also went live last week, and is here:
The Commission remain sceptical of developed Member States spending these funds on infrastructure, with significant queries on proposals across the UK for transport, flood defences and digital/broadband infrastructure. This is something the UK and SG intends to contest – these are vital developments, and the ICT infrastructure in particular underpins not only innovation and SME growth but social inclusion as well.
Despite these points, the PA is in good shape overall, with clear lines on skills, labour market mobility and territorial challenges and dimensions to the programmes. The Commission like the Scottish approach to RTDI, for which considerable thanks to those of you who have kept us right on Smart Specialisation, and also likes the approach to urban development through smart cities and green infrastructure.
We have now agreed across the UK that the Partnership Agreement will be submitted to the Commission in February. This will allow us to address the detailed comments from the Commission, and also allow time to develop those programmes, funds and geographical areas which are not settled yet. We’ll keep you posted!