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Regional Development Fund

Volume 934: debated on Wednesday 29 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the EEC proposal for money available to the United Kingdom in 1978 in £ sterling from the European Regional Development Fund; what is the net figure after the United Kingdom contribution to the fund; and how this compares with Her Majesty's Government's own expenditure on regional aid.

I have been asked to reply.The Commission has proposed that the European Regional Development Fund for 1978 should comprise 750 million European units of account (EUA) or approximately £495 million, of which 650 million EUA, or approximately £429 million, would be allocated according to national quotas, and that the United Kingdom quota should be 28 per cent. as at present. If this proposal is endorsed, the United Kingdom can therefore expect to receive about £120 million from the quota section of the fund—a proportion of this aid will be for infrastructure projects—and would also be able to apply for assistance from the non-quota section.The United Kingdom contributes to the Community budget as a whole. The European Commission presented the preliminary draft budget for 1978 to the Council on 15th June; it totals 11,850 million EUA, equivalent to about £7,745 million. The Council and the European Parliament have not yet taken their decisions on the Commission's proposals and it is not, therefore, possible to indicate now the likely total United Kingdom contribution to the 1978 budget. The latest forecast of the United Kingdom contribution to the budget in 1978 is £810 million gross as shown in Cmnd. 6721—II.The fund contributes towards the cost of assistance to industrial projects and the cost of infrastructure projects. It is estimated that national expenditure on United Kingdom regional aids to industry will be £583 million in 1977–78 and £649 million in 1978–79. It is not possible to produce comprehensive estimates of expenditure on the infrastructure projects which might qualify for assistance for the fund since these programmes—for example, water, sewerage and ports—are not determined on a regional basis.