2010 has now kicked off with the introduction of new Commissioners and the opportunity to grill them over the issues that will carry weight over the coming year. I have spoken at length before over EU Cohesion Policy and the Structural funds currently received by Wales. After 2013, funding to the tune of £200 million a year will be stopped. My concern is what sort of arrangements will be made to make sure that funding transition will be as pain free as possible.
A leaked draft document before Christmas revealed plans to cut social and development funding to Europe’s poorest regions in order to afford policies such as Climate Change.
New Regional Development Commissioner Johannes Hahn assured the hearing that transitional funding would be provided to protect those regions currently qualifying for support.
I also challenged the Commissioner on €2.7 billion overspend on regional funding in Spain, Italy and Portugal, as ruled by the EU court of auditors. The answer was lacking an admission that such a vast fiscal waste during hard times was completely unacceptable and instead focused upon positives, but at least the matter will be investigated. I will amke sure of that.
The EU does not have its own money. That money is paid in by the member states, some more than others. Here in the UK we already have a sore deal and I think it’s important that we have a referendum on our relationship with the European Union. But in the meantime whilst we continue to pay in billions of pounds, I think it’s important that regions like Wales fight for their slice of the pie. Until policy is put back into our own hands, we must make sure that the EU takes notice of us, rather than take advantage of us.