The global financial crisis is having a negative effect on Scottish businesses trying to access multi-million-pound European Union funding schemes, according to a report published today by the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee.
The report – The Impact of the Financial Crisis on EU Support for Economic Development – calls on the Scottish Government, UK Government and the European Union to introduce a series of measures to safeguard EU financial packages for regional economic development during the recession.
Committee Convener Irene Oldfather MSP said: “European Union structural funding programmes have been very important to Scotland in the past and have a key role in helping us to overcome the current economic difficulties.
"However, our inquiry has picked up worrying signs that public and private bodies are starting to struggle to find finance to match European Union funds.
"The European Union has taken a number of initiatives recently which are to be welcomed, but the committee believes further measures are necessary to ensure the continued success of these programmes. We urge the Scottish Government to work further with the UK Government to lobby the European Commission, and indeed our new MEPs, to help secure these measures.”
The measures recommended by the committee include:
- that projects receiving EU funding assistance should be given three years to complete instead of the current two-year deadline
- that the maximum level of EU grant aid available should be increased
- that EU-funded schemes should focus more on infrastructure projects to stimulate Scotland’s ailing construction sector.
The committee also welcomed proposals announced in the European Economic Recovery Plan, such as speeding up the public tendering process, which should aid the construction sector, and the Scottish Government’s initiative in bringing forward £95 million of EU structural funds expenditure to boost the Scottish economy.
The EU Recovery Plan proposes a series of initiatives to address the global financial crisis and focuses on two key areas:
- a set of incentives to boost demand and save jobs in the short term
- a package of measures and reforms to ensure that the EU economy will be able to fully recover.
For more information about the committee's remit and work programme please visit the European and External Relations Committee homepage.