The fight against moves to take away hundreds of millions of pounds of European Union funding from deprived areas in Wales has taken a step forward this week at a meeting, organised and hosted by Welsh Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan, involving MEPs from other parts of Europe who will be similarly affected by the mooted changes.
Merthyr born, Mr Vaughan, a former leader of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, said:
"Structural funding for Wales has made a huge difference in transforming the economic and social fortunes of communities right across the country.
It has delivered much needed investment to assist in creating sustainable growth and more jobs.
Discussions are ongoing on the future of the Convergence and Competitiveness schemes and it is vital that this all-party group sets the agenda and shapes the policies that will be implemented post-2013."
MEPs at the meeting received representations from the Welsh Local Government Association and other organisations on the importance of retaining as much funding as possible. They also agreed to look at ways of developing detailed options for the European Commission to consider and how the campaign can be widened to include all the stakeholders likely to be affected by any changes.
The Welsh Labour MEP added:
"Make no mistake, Structural Funding after 2013 will be one of the key issues that needs to be addressed if we are to be able to continue with the first class work in tackling poverty and lack of opportunity in deprived areas.
I am looking forward to working closely with my colleagues from across the EU to ensure that the needs of the people of Wales are put directly to those at the very highest level."