Welsh Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan, speaking at a special conference held in Swansea Bay today (14 Jan 11), has called for a “Team Wales” response to challenges put forward by the European Commission’s proposals on the future of Structural Funding, which currently supports hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in Wales every year.
The event, organised by Mr Vaughan to discuss the implications of the recently published 5th Cohesion Report, was attended by representatives from organisations from all parts of the country. Delegates received an update on the progress of projects currently in operation and gave their views on the way forward as the ongoing consultation on the plans comes to a conclusion.
DEREK VAUGHAN MEP said:
"Despite the significant progress made in recent years in developing the Welsh economy, it is clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. If we are to compete in the global marketplace and regenerate and re-skill our communities, then the support that Structural Funds provides is vital and needs to continue.
I welcome the broad consensus that emerged at the conference. Representatives from central and local government, the third sector, the public sector and private industry all agree that we need to work together as “Team Wales” to shape the debate and make our voices heard at the highest level.
Detailed submissions will now need to be put forward to the European Commission articulating the concerns commonly held in Wales. I believe that as part of the new policy, there needs to be a place for transitional status to be granted to regions, similar to Wales, on the edge of meeting the qualifying criteria. Competitiveness Funding, which currently benefits East Wales should also be part of the mix in any future direction and the European Social Fund, which supports innovative projects across Wales, should remain as part of Structural Funding.
The next fortnight will be key for the future of Structural Funding in Wales. With the consultation closing at the end of this month, I would encourage as many groups and organisations as possible to respond and put their views forward for consideration by the Commission."
- The “5th EU Report on Cohesion Policy – Implications for Wales Conference” took place at the Towers Hotel, Swansea Bay today. Guest speakers included Jeff Cuthbert AM (Chair, All-Wales Programme Monitoring Committee on Structural Funds), Phil Fiander (Director of Enterprise & Regeneration, WCVA), Damien O’Brien (Chief Executive, WEGO), Cllr Chris Holley (Leader of Swansea Council and WLGA Spokesperson on European Affairs) and Lowri Gwilym (Team Manager – European & Regeneration, WLGA).
- Further information on the 5th Report on Cohesion Policy can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/official/reports/cohesion5/index_en.cfm