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European Cohesion Policy

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her policy is on the Leipzig Declaration on European Cohesion Policy; and if she will make a statement. [130886]

The Government's position on the future of the EU Structural and Cohesion Funds was confirmed in a statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 17 September 2003. Although some of the principles of the Leipzig declaration—for example, its emphasis on a strengthened Community regional and cohesion policy and an enhanced role for regional and local government—are reflected in the Government's approach, our overall position is somewhat different. In particular, we believe that richer EU member states should fund their own regional policy within an EUwide agreed framework and we do not regard the current budget maximum, 0.45 per cent. of EU GDP, as a reference point for future Structural and Cohesion funding.