The Conservative leader of the Opposition in the Assembly has swiftly responded to the First Minister's attack on the EU budget deal. Andrew RT Davies says David Cameron achieved 'an historic agreement' in Brussels last Friday and he's accused Carwyn Jones of 'opportunistic whinging'.
– Leader of the Opposition Andrew RT Davies AM
This is in contrast to the previous Labour Government which gave up £2 billion of Britain’s rebate and agreed increases to the EU budget of 47%. Carwyn Jones’ opportunism whingeing about a cut to the EU budget leaves him totally at odds with Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Labour’s MEPs, who are all supporting the agreed cut. It’s only because of Labour’s squandering of billions of pounds of EU structural funds, that West Wales and the Valleys remain amongst the poorest regions of Europe and are set to qualify for a third tranche of funding.
The Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, said on Friday that if the Prime Minister had secured a 'genuine real terms cut' in the EU Budget then he will have delivered what Labour and Parliament demanded.
The First Minister, who's leading a trade mission to California, has given the Welsh Government's first detailed reaction to the EU budget deal. Carwyn Jones says its impact on west Wales and the valleys is as bad as feared. He also warns about the effect on the rest of Wales and on farming.
West Wales and the Valleys will lose out to wealthier regions,including those within the UK. The agreement would mean a reduction of some £400m for 2014-2020 compared to the funding for2007-2013 – this figure would be much greater of course in real terms. This is contrary to the EU’s objective to narrow income differentials across the Union. Furthermore, the impact for East Wales remains uncertain, as its funding allocation will need to be negotiated with the UK Government, but we have concerns that this region too will see a substantial reduction in its funding.
While other Member States, including Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Italy and Spain, have sought and secured additional special allocations for regions adversely affected by the overall budget settlement, the UK failed to negotiate similar protection for Wales. We must now look to the UK Government to make a fair allocation of support to Wales in order to address our much reduced Structural Funds budget so that we can continue our work to lift the economy of our country.
– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM
As regards the Common Agricultural Policy, it is difficult at this stage to extrapolate direct payments to farmers or for the rural development funds and we expect the details to emerge over the coming weeks and months. However, we will be pushing the UK Government hard to ensure that our allocations reflect the challenges faced by our rural communities and the industry more generally. Overall, where the agreement failed to provide adequate support at the EU level for our vulnerable communities, we will be looking to the UK Government to cover the shortfall.
Earlier today, the Prime Minister said he expected 'fruitful talks' about how European funds should be distributed. The entire seven year budget has still to be approved by the European Parliament, which could reject it.
The Prime Minister has floated the idea of an agreement between different parts of the UK to protect regions that face cuts in European aid. The Welsh Government has warned of a £400 million cut in funding to west Wales and the valleys over the next seven years, following Friday's EU budget deal.
David Cameron told MPs that total aid to Britain is broadly unchanged at roughly £10 billion. That's because new 'transition' regions and even wealthy regions will also attract some funding, although west Wales and the valleys is the only part of the UK to remain one of the EU's poorest regions.
– Prime Minister David Cameron MP
What we now need to do is to sit down as the United Kingdom and to work out how best to make sure that the money is fairly divided between Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. There are transition regions in England that are looking to benefit but I'm sure we can have fruitful discussions and come to a good conclusion.
The European Commission says it will be more flexible than in the past about how the money is allocated within each member state. It's suggested that the UK could increase the allocation to west Wales and the valleys by up to 2%, which would be about £30 million on the Welsh Government's figures.
European Council President Herman van Rompuy says the Budget agreed by EU leaders means poorer countries in the Euro zone will get a bigger share of regional aid. The deal will leave less money for west Wales and the valleys, a poor region of the UK, which is one of the EU's wealthiest members.
– European Council President Herman van Rompuy
This is a budget of moderation. We simply could not ignore the extremely difficult economic realities across Europe. So it had to be a leaner budget. For the first time ever, there is a real cut. In allocating structural funds, special attention was given to countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Ireland. Overall, poorer countries will receive a larger share of cohesion funding.
Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards says the cut in the EU Budget could have a 'devastating impact' on some of Wales' poorest communities. He claims that the total loss to Wales over the next seven years will be around £1billion.
– Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards
The confirmation that the EU Budget faces real-terms cut is devastating news for Wales. As a net beneficiary of EU membership, some areas of Wales receive funding which is vitally important for some of our poorest communities that are not only some of the worst off in Wales but throughout Europe. Those Labour MPs who voted with right-wing Eurosceptics must now make a public apology to the people they have betrayed for their role in the vote that started the chain of events leading to today's announcement.
The deal in Brussels means the richest countries, including Britain, will contribute most of the savings. Aid to west Wales and the valleys will be cut by an estimated £400 million over seven years, according to the Welsh Government. The UK's net contribution to the EU is expected to go up.
– UKIP MEP for Wales John Bufton
Britain’s payments into the budget may still rise due to the recent expansion of the EU. This is ludicrous given that our daily contribution to the EU budget is already hitting around £53 million a day. Here in Wales, in particular, the failings of the system are blatantly clear. As we head into the third round of EU funding we should have seen marked improvement by now and we certainly have not. I would much rather see the money being retained by the UK Government and then funded directly into those areas of Wales that need it most - we should be allowed to spend our money as we see fit.
The Budget has to be approved by the European Parliament and Mr Bufton says he thinks it's likely to be defeated. The Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans says a detailed analysis of the impact on Wales is needed before the vote in March.
First Minister Carwyn Jones says he's disappointed with today's EU Budget deal, and claims Wales be 'up to £400m' poorer as a result.
We are disappointed that the agreement fails to deliver the level of investment in jobs and growth needed in Wales.
We are especially concerned that the most vulnerable part of Wales - West Wales and the Valleys - appears to be losing out to wealthier regions in the UK. This cannot be seen as a fair reflection of priorities for Wales.
The EU budget deal will mean significant cuts to programmes, including Structural Funds. We need to study the agreement in greater detail but provisional calculations show Wales losing out up to £400m.
– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM
The Prime Minister says this is a 'good deal for Britain'. He will need to explain how it's a good deal for Wales.
The Welsh Government has always recognised the need for discipline in the overall EU budget but it cannot be right for EU money allocated to the UK to be siphoned away from poorer regions, like west Wales and the Valleys - to richer regions elsewhere.
David Cameron said the new budget agreed by European Union leaders was "a good deal for Britain".
"The best way to protect the British taxpayer is to get overall spending down, which we've done. Our contributions were always going to go up, now they'll go up by less," said the Prime Minister.
"I think the British public can be proud that we have cut the seven-year credit card limit for the European Union for the first time ever."