Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Wales gets Euro cash

When Labour voted tactically with the anti-european Conservatives to seek cuts to the European budget this blog warned that this could have serious implications for Wales. A view shared by no less a person than our own First Minister. 

To say that he was less than happy with Ed Miliband and his tactics would be an understatement. Carwyn Jones knows how dependent Wales’s on EU handouts. 

The extent of the handouts has now been demonstrated by Plaid Cymru in the form of MEP Jill Evans. She’s just done the sums. Her conclusion, every person in Wales is around forty pounds (£40) a year better off. 

Ms Evans reckons that on average each person in Wales contributes €195.82 per year to the EU, whilst EU funding to Wales is worth an estimated €243.98 per person annually. So we’re quids in.

Ah, the eurosceptics would say if we didn’t pay the money to Europe in the first place the UK government would have more cash to distribute. Maybe. But would it come to Wales? Highly unlikely. 

If HM Treasury has anything to do with it, a snowball has more chance in hell than Wales’s chance of getting its hand on the cash once it’s in the grubby little paws of Chancellor Osborne. 

Lets face it, London hasn’t been altogether championing at the bit to provide Wales with a fair funding formula. It’s not only Osborne, but his shadow as well. Ball’s only utterance on the matter of Barnet is to say no, to change. Labour did nothing when they ran the shop and there hasn’t been much sign of a change of heart yet.

Successive Labour finance ministers in the Welsh Government have been making the case only to be ignored. Party unity has stopped them going public on the fact. But privately they talk dispairingly about the deaf ears of their Westminster colleagues.

Jill Evans has done us all a great favour by highlighting the following grants that Wales receives.  She points out the EU funds that benefit Wales as the “European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) (including CAP), Structural funds, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), European Fisheries Fund (EFF), as well as the Lifelong Learning Programmes which includes Erasmus. 630 students and 112 staff from Welsh universities took part in the Erasmus scheme last year.

The bottom line is that Wales has a vested interest in seeing PM Cameron fail in his attempts to cut the European budget this week. 

There is little sign that he'll succeed in persuading other European governments to join him in his very short sighted attempt at bringing about cuts. His venture is doomed in the short term.

Let’s hope that Miliband doesn’t gloat over the failure. ‘Cos if he does he’ll loose a lot of friends in Wales. Not least from his own party, in the form of the First Minister and his cabinet.


  1. I don't think Milliband or Balls care two hoots about what their Labour colleagues (or should that be 'underlings') in Wales think. Why? Because Labour in Wales, which includes Carwyn Jones FM and his cabinet, are little more than Westminster Labour Poodles. Sad but true.

  2. Fair funding ..... what the hell is this?

    Just because two blokes go to work for eight hours a day in the same office doesn't mean they have to get paid the same. Fair funding means reaping what you sow. And here in Wales we sow next to nothing and therefore should get less rather than more.

    I think some are in for quite a rude awakening.

  3. Whatabout the Open Europe report last January which showed that for every £1 from Europe in structural funds ,West Wales and the valleys contributed 40p. To get that that £1 East Wales contributed £2.35. There is really no such thing as 'free' money from Europe given that the UK is one of the biggest net contributors. If structural funds were returned to the control of the UK government the Uk economy would be £4 billion a year better off. Basically equivalent to the cost of free university education. Perhaps some research could be carried out on how much European money has been wasted on what are basically mickey mouse schemes which do absolutely nothing for economic development As for the CAP no one in Western Europe who isn't a French politician desperate to try to regain popular support should support one of the most wasteful subsidy regimes known to man and which takes up 40% of the EU budget. Anyone who claims to be a socialist should also want reform because of the way in which the CAP discriminates against farmers in the Third World. The sensible policy for any pro European is real reform as advocated by the UK Labour Party. The mind set of some of the second rate politicians who are only MEPs because of a flawed anti democratic electoral system merely plays I'm afraid right into the hands of those who want the UK to leave the EU. Jill Evans should wake up and start smelling the coffee.

  4. "Fair funding ..... what the hell is this?"

    The same treatment that English regions get.

  5. "If structural funds were returned to the control of the UK government the Uk economy would be £4 billion a year better off. Basically equivalent to the cost of free university education."

    This sounds true, but in reality no UK Government of any political colour will deliver free university education. Both the Conservatives and (UK) Labour are ideologically opposed to free university education. If the UK Government wanted to offer Wales and other economic regions a replacement deal, or an offer to fund free university education (which would trigger a Barnett consequential for Wales), that would be fair enough and Jeff would have a point. But we all know they won't do that.

  6. I used free university education as an example of what could be achieved with the £4 billion that the UK would save if structural funds were returned to the direct control of EU countries such as the UK which are net contributors to the EU budget.

  7. It would only be applicable if the UK government passed the cash onto Wales. There hasn't been any sign of that happening under this government of the previous one for that matter.

  8. Jeff, i'm not ruling your point out completely, and there are many socially and economically useful things that could be done with the £4bn. But why would we trust the current or recent UK Governments to use any repatriated money in that way? If the money was returned to the UK they would not use it for regional policy. They do not have that as a priority.