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European Regional Development Fund

Volume 462: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she was first notified by the European Commission of the prospect of European Regional Development Fund payments being suspended; on what grounds the payments are being suspended; what form this notification took; what action she has taken in response; and if she will make a statement. (135790)

[holding answer 8 May 2007]: Officials from the European Commission informed us orally and wrote to the United Kingdom in November 2006 indicating an intention to advise the Commission to hold back the reimbursement of expenditure by the Government on the ERDF 2000-06 programmes in England. In particular, the European Commission wanted us to carry out more physical on-site checking of projects to ensure compliance with particular EU budget criteria. Formal notification was received on 11 April 2007. Action to increase the level of on-site checks began June last year in addition to strengthened management of the processes involved. A robust action plan has been in place for some time and we have made significant progress which has meant that four of the nine regions were not included in the Commission’s formal decision. Further work is under way with the Commission to meet their requirements.