Headlines: April 27th, 2006

With Scotland facing a big reduction in its share of European structural funds, the Scottish Parliament has launched an inquiry into how future rounds of funding should be distributed. The investigation will also look at how to make best use of the money that is available.The Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee wants to take written evidence on how best to spend the funds, which were worth over a billion pounds to Scotland from 2000 until this year. Now, because of the enlargement of the European Union from 15 to 25 member states, the money available for Scotland could be cut by as much as 55 per cent over the next six years.

Linda Fabiani MSP, Convener of the Committee, said the money was vitally important to Scotland and the fact that it was being reduced by such a large amount made it particularly important that the funds were delivered wisely and effectively and reached the areas that need it most.

“If the Scottish Executive intends to alter the way in which the funds are distributed throughout Scotland, and it is my understanding that they do, then our committee has a role in scrutinising such proposals and ensuring that the people involved in this on a day-to-day basis have their say,” she said.

The inquiry will look at how Scotland can maximise the reduced funds available; how well funds have been distributed so far; possible changes to the ways funds are distributed and the main priority areas for funding. It will also examine the response to the UK Government’s National Strategic Regional Framework consultation document, which poses specific questions about how to manage Structural Funds for 2007-2013.

The final day for receipt of written evidence for this latter part of the Inquiry is May 15th and the final date for evidence for the Inquiry as a whole is May 26th.