The European Commission has adopted a "Partnership Agreement" with the United Kingdom setting down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds throughout the country. Today’s agreement paves the way for investing 11.8 billion in total Cohesion Policy funding over 2014-2020 (current prices, including European Territorial Cooperation funding and the allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative). The United Kingdom also receives 5.18 billion for rural development and 243 million for fisheries and the maritime sector.
The EU investments will help tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness and economic growth through support to innovation, training and education in cities, towns and rural areas. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight social exclusion and help to develop an environmentally friendly and a resource-efficient economy.
The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in the UK are:
Cllr Gordon Keymer , Leader of the UK's Delegation to the EU's Committee of the Regions, adressed his views to the agreement of the UK Partnership Agreement with the European Commission, saying that: “We welcome today’s adoption of the UK Partnership Agreement with the European Commission which will see €11.8bn of EU funds spent across Britain. This is a substantial amount of money which can make the difference in helping councils and their local partners to stimulate growth and create jobs over the next decade. In light of reduced domestic spending, EU monies are, more than ever, a crucial part of the funding mix coming down from Whitehall to local areas. The funds should be well promoted, subject to a minimum of bureaucracy and easily accessible to communities of all types: whether in cities, towns or rural areas. Thanks to sustained campaigning by local areas in many parts of the UK, councils' involvement in the design and delivery of the funds will be much more meaningful than in previous rounds. However, it is also crucial that the associated Operational Programmes which are still subject to negotiation with the European Commission maintain a full role for all those local partners involved in the process. This is to allow the funds to be tailored to the real needs of local areas. It is also crucial that councils remain fully involved in monitoring and scrutinising the performance of the programme over the next seven years.
Commenting on the adoption, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said: "Today we have adopted a vital investment plan that sets the United Kingdom on the path to jobs and growth for the next 10 years. This Partnership Agreement reflects the European Commission and the United Kingdom's joint determination to make the most efficient use of EU funding. Our investments must be strategic, according to the new Cohesion Policy- focusing on the real economy, on sustainable growth and investing in people. But we must focus on quality not speed in the coming months, as we plan the investments from the European Structural and Investment Funds in 2014-2020. Commitment is needed on all sides to ensure good quality programmes are put in place.
Commissioner Hahn added: "This investment strategy builds on the important contribution the United Kingdom is already making to help meet the EU's goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. This Partnership Agreement, which covers all Structural and Investment Funds, gives strategic direction to future programmes that will enhance innovation, and transform UK SMEs into models of growth. The ESI Funds are helping the United Kingdom's regions and cities to face these challenges."
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor said:
" I congratulate the United Kingdom on the adoption of the Partnership Agreement. The UK will use almost €5 billion from the European Social Fund and €206 million from the Youth Employment Initiative over the coming 7 years to make progress towards the Europe 2020 Strategy's targets on employment and poverty reduction. These EU investment resources can have a valuable leverage effect in combination with other public and private funding to promote youth employment, education and social inclusion in the United Kingdom, helping to keep its economy competitive. I welcome the focus of the UK authorities on helping the young unemployed, including those at greatest risk of social exclusion, although I regret that the UK remains the only Member State who does not share the objective of the EU Youth Guarantee to ensure a good-quality labour market offer to every young person within 4 months. "
Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş said:
“The Partnership Agreement is an important step in creating the strategic framework for a successful implementation of rural development policy in the UK. We expect that the improved coordination between the different EU Funds - not only Rural, but also Structural and Social - will lead to an increased efficiency and synergy in the implementation of programmes and better value for money for the invested EU funds. The Partnership Agreement recognises the important role that the farming sector of the UK can play for economic growth, while setting the stage for safeguarding the country's natural resources and addressing social issues in its rural areas. I am confident that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will propose ambitious and well-targeted rural development programmes, which will encourage sustainable food production, enhance the environment and biodiversity, improve the quality of life and not least, create jobs.
Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki said:
" Innovation and sustainability are at the centre of the UK's maritime and fisheries policy. The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will support the UK's high tech maritime sectors such as marine renewables. By investing in innovation and technological development, and by facilitating access to funding for small business, the EMFF will support growth and jobs in the UK. By building on the UK's longstanding tradition in fisheries and on the growing potential of UK aquaculture, the EMFF will help these sectors become more sustainable and more competitive. "
All Member States have now presented their Partnership Agreements to the Commission. The adoption of these agreements follows after a process of consultation.
MEMO on Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes