Labour MEP Derek Vaughan has delivered a report to the EU Parliament’s Regional Development Committee that examines how prepared member states are for the next round of Cohesion Policy funds.
Mr Vaughan was appointed to report on the issue in June in order to make sure adequate structures are in place across all EU member states to effectively deliver funding in 2014. This follows his success at increasing the amount of European Structural Funds to Wales by about £500 million between 2014-2020.
"I have noticed that, in general, the smaller, centralised states are further ahead than the larger countries in terms of preparations to ensure best practice.
I am pleased to say that Wales is well ahead of England in this respect – in fact Wales is one of the best prepared regions in the EU. Having a responsive Labour Government in power in Wales has been a major factor in ensuring that we are well prepared.
When I say best practice and preparedness I am also talking about the extent to which member states have taken on board the lessons learnt from the 2007-2013 funding period – including greater coordination between national and local bodies and actively involving stakeholders such as NGOs, businesses and universities in the process.
I want to be sure that when we begin to deliver this funding in January next year, there are no unnecessary errors or delays so that the funding can have an impact from day one.
I also want to ensure that member states who are now experiencing delays and difficulties are provided with additional support by the European Commission.”
Mr Vaughan said the report is an important step towards ensuring the effectiveness of EU spending.
"Making sure our money delivers results is especially important at a time when national budgets are being reduced across the EU. We must ensure that funding creates jobs, develops infrastructure and is invested in innovative research.
Cohesion funding is the EU's largest investment in jobs and growth projects and represents around one third of the EU budget, so it is important we get this right."
Mr Vaughan said his report had received a great deal of input from member states and regions including Wales.
"Welsh people each receive more from the EU budget than they pay in, equating to a £200 million surplus.
I'm pleased to say that in Wales we have an excellent track record of effectively managing EU funds and I'm confident that we will continue to be an example of best practice.
I'm committed to ensuring that all EU member states are just as well prepared.”