Fighting for a fair deal from Europe

Published 31st July 2013 at 9:27am

Earlier this month, I travelled to Brussels for an urgent meeting about the damage the UK Government is planning to inflict on the Sheffield City Region by slashing our EU funding for the next seven years.

Together with our MEP Linda McAvan and local MP John Healey, I met with the European Commissioner for the Regions, Commissioner Hahn, to bring attention to the UK Government’s astonishing decision to cut future EU funding to Sheffield City Region by half.

In the last decade, European Union funding has helped to deliver key projects in the Sheffield City Region. EU funding has helped projects, including Sheffield’s city centre regeneration and train station developments, Barnsley’s Transport Interchange, Doncaster’s Civic and Cultural Quarter and Rotherham’s Advanced Manufacturing Park, to be made possible.

Key projects like Doncaster's civic offices benefited from EU money

EU funding helped build Doncaster’s civic offices

These projects have had a huge impact on jobs and growth in the Sheffield City Region and the loss of future funding means that Sheffield City Region will miss out on the economic lift that future projects like this would have given us.

I understand that some cuts have to be made because the EU has cut the Government’s total allocation. But, I think that the fairest way to manage this would have been to spread the cuts across all areas in the UK. The Government, however, has chosen to limit the cuts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which has meant much less for the English regions.

Within England we currently have ‘Transition’ status as a relatively poor area. However, because of a quirk in the Government’s chosen method of calculating the allocations, and despite the fact that our GDP is 84% of the European regional average, we and Liverpool City Region have lost out substantially. We even have less money per head than some English ‘well off’ areas, which clearly is wrong.

Sheffield and Liverpool City Region will lose out

Sheffield and Liverpool City Region will lose out

The Commissioner gave us reassurance that Ministers will have to fully justify their decision before getting approval from the EU, and that their proposals will be rigorously scrutinised. It’s clear that the Government are going to have a hard time adequately answering our concerns which we put forward in the meeting.

Commissioner Hahn said UK Ministers will have to justify their decision

Hahn – Ministers to fully justify their decision

The Government’s decision is not final and our meeting marks the start of negotiations. In the next few months, the LEP will be working very hard, along with MPs and other partners, to convince Ministers to give us a fair deal for our City Region.

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