EU in Brussels
Scotland’s 32 unitary authorities will be glad to
hear that the European Commission would like them to become more
involved in its affairs.
The Councils are already able to apply for EU funding
in a range of – it has to be admitted, rather complicated – ways.
The European Regional Development Fund helps
regeneration in less developed areas of the EU. Projects have to comply
with three themes of sustainability, equal opportunities and social
inclusion. In the budget up to this year, Scotland received over €480
million under the scheme.
But we could be getting more. While some of our
councils have managed to get to grips with the complexities of putting
in applications, others feel overwhelmed by it. There is lots of online
information as well as some useful links here:
Although I accept that when people start hearing
about the institutions of Europe they can’t be blamed for starting to
switch off but I do feel that this is an important source of funds to
some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas.
This is a good example of one of the reasons why I’d
like to be elected to the European Parliament. I would then be better
placed to provide information to Scotland’s councils in terms that are
more workable. Hopefully then, those councils themselves might be better
equipped to make those applications for funding.
And of course as an independent country, Scotland
would immediately receive more EU Structural Funds and have the freedom
to decide upon the best distribution of those funds.
But it’s good news that the Commission wants to give
local authorities more of a voice and I hope the Scottish ones exploit
The Commission says it’s taking “a territorial
approach to development” and says it could “trigger a change in the
quality of citizens’ life and wellbeing”.
Behind this is the Commission’s recognition that it
needs to decentralise more and that this will help boost what those
local authorities can do. They say they want to involve local authority
associations in the implementation of the programmes it finances and
help in the establishment of partnerships between its own local
authority associations and those of partner countries.
There’s a real indicator here that the Commission
wants to develop more political, administrative and fiscal autonomy for
local authorities, bringing them more actively into the whole
The EU includes 500 million people. Its Commission is
well aware that each member nation wants to be involved in the action.
An independent Scotland will be there too.