European budget approved

Members of the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg have approved the European Union's overall budget for the next seven years. They've also voted in favour of regional aid that's expected to deliver €2.1 billion to West Wales and the Valleys.

Wales benefits from aid that mostly goes east

by Nick Powell
European aid map north
Apart from Wales and Cornwall, European aid is concentrated in the east...
European aid map south
...and south of the European Union Credit: European Commission

The European Commission has marked today's vote in the European Parliament by issuing a map showing where its aid budget will be spent over the next seven years. Less developed regions, with below 75% of the EU's average GDP per person, are shown in red. They will share €164 billion

The orange regions, with 75% to 90%, get €32 billion. Everywhere else shares €49 billion. The map shows how previous rounds of European aid have helped some regions to become more prosperous. No part of the Republic of Ireland or the former East Germany is now classed as 'less developed'.

Many east European countries have at least seen their capitals grow into prosperous commuter centres. Warsaw, Prague, Bratislava, Budapest and Bucharest have all passed the 90% mark.

Commuting also partly explains the apparent lack of progress in West Wales and the Valleys, where many workers have jobs in Cardiff, Newport, Wrexham or Deeside.

The European Commission's figures still show the €2.1 billion expected for West Wales and the Valleys as the total for the UK's less developed regions, which also include Cornwall.

However, the Commission is expected to agree to the UK Government's plan to switch some funds from England to Wales to make up the difference.

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Euro budget leaves Wales out of pocket says UKIP

UKIP's MEP for Wales, John Bufton, says Welsh taxpayers will still lose out despite the approval of more than €2bn of European aid. He said:

Signing over such a huge amount of money to the EU is a disastrous move, not least for taxpayers in Wales who will undoubtedly be left hugely out of pocket once again.

In the last funding period, Wales’ taxpayers paid £1.65 for every £1 received back in structural and cohesion funding and under this new EU budget we are likely to see more of the same.

Cohesion funds constitute 34% of the EU spending budget which means we are talking about €325 billion over the next seven years – this figure should really get people thinking about the extortionate cost attached to our membership of the EU.

– John Bufton MEP, UKIP

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MEPs back Euro aid for Wales

MEPs have backed budget plans which will see European aid given to Wales until 2020. Their final vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg follows years of discussions on the distribution of aid money to some of the poorest regions of the EU.

Wales has qualified for the highest level of aid which is expected to mean €2.1bn over the course of the spending period. It's a higher amount than had been expected after the UK Government agreed to cut some funding from parts of England.

It'll be the third round of aid given to Wales. The Welsh Government has been criticised for some of its previous spending priorities. If it gets permission from the European Commission, it intends to spend more of the next batch on roads and other infrastructure projects.