For the 2007-13 period, European Structural Funds in Scotland comprise four programmes: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) in each of the Highlands and Islands and in Lowlands and Uplands programming areas.
The programmes have been "interrupted" not "suspended". An "interruption" is a temporary arrangement, whereas a "suspension" is of a more permanent nature.
Individual projects are not affected by the suspension of payments to the Scottish Government by the European Commission. The interruption refers to the reimbursement of Structural Funds payments by the Commission to the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government will continue to meet all eligible claims by projects.
The ERDF programmes were officially interrupted by the European Commission on 22 December 2010 and this was the point at which the Scottish Government was formally made aware that funds were going to be temporarily withheld.
The ESF programmes were officially interrupted by the European Commission on 15 February 2011; again, this was the point at which the Scottish Government was formally made aware that funds were going to be temporarily withheld.
The European Commission imposed the interruptions as, in its view, the Scottish Government had not carried out sufficient management and control checks prior to its payment declaration in December 2009.
The European Commission has confirmed that the interruptions will be lifted when the Scottish Government provides sufficient evidence that an increased level of management and control checks have been undertaken.
The interruption process, whilst temporary in nature, takes time to resolve. To ensure that this is progressed, the Scottish Government provided the European Commission with additional evidence on the 17 February 2011 and again on 23 February 2011.
We intend that a complete response to the interruptions will be sent to the Commission by Easter. Subject to the Commission’s timetable, it is anticipated that the interruptions will be lifted by the summer.