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EU Regional Policy

Volume 554: debated on Wednesday 28 November 2012

In July my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary announced to the House the launch of the Government’s review into the balance of competences of the European Union. The review will look at the scope of the EU’s competences as they affect the UK and what this means for our national interest. The review will be completed in 2014.

As the Government’s position, set out in the fifth cohesion report in January 2011, is that wealthier states should not receive structural and cohesion funds, what assessment has my hon. Friend made of the impact on the Welsh regions of repatriating regional policy to the UK?

The Government have made consistently clear our belief that wealthier member states have both the ability and the capacity to finance their own regional development policy and hence do not require structural funds. However, as the Prime Minister made clear on Monday afternoon, we also recognise that the more prosperous member states, such as the UK, need to be given time to make the adjustment and so should continue to receive funding during the 2014-20 programming period. The Government will consider the right balance of competences in terms of regional policy in the autumn of 2013 as part of our review.

Does the Minister accept that Wales does not get its fair share of UK funding in either capital or revenue from Barnett, that the money paid, for instance, to Swansea university—£60 million from the European Investment Bank and £30 million from convergence—helps Wales to succeed, and that we would like to see the UK Government help Wales in the same way?

I do not accept that Wales is underfunded. This Government have demonstrated in our announcements on investment in rail infrastructure in Wales and broadband infrastructure in Wales that we are providing funding over and above the Barnett formula for Wales, so I do not accept the hon. Gentleman’s proposition at all.