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'Out of touch' cuts to EU funds would hit Wales - Plaid

The Prime Minister's call for cuts to EU funding show that he's 'completely out of touch with the needs of the people of Wales' according to Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary Leader. Elfyn Llwyd said the funding was 'vital' for the poorest parts of Wales.

It is clear that the Prime Minister is completely out of touch with the needs of the people of Wales. The same is true of the Welsh Labour MPs who recently voted with staunch right-wing Conservatives for a real-terms cut in the EU budget.

This funding provides some of Wales' poorest communities - which are also some of Europe's poorest communities - with vast sums of money.

A cut in the EU Budget will see the gap between the richest and poorest parts of the state would widen considerably. Inner London is by far the richest part of the EU while West Wales and the Valleys are among the poorest.

– Elfyn Llwyd MP, Plaid Cymru

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Welsh Tories back PM's call for EU funds cut

Welsh Conservatives have backed the Prime Minister's stance on EU funding even if that means a cut to the money made available to the poorest parts of Wales. David Cameron told the Commons yesterday that 'there is a need for cuts in the overall cohesion and structural funds budget' of the EU.

We should be frank and honest as a country in saying that, although there are regions of the UK that still benefit and should go on benefiting from structural funds, such funds should, on the whole, be for the poorest regions of the poorest countries.

– Prime Minister David Cameron

Those 'structural funds' have paid out £3.5bn to the poorest parts of Wales - an area defined as 'West Wales and the Valleys' - in two batches since 2000 and another batch from 2013 looks likely. Even so, the Welsh Conservatives' Shadow Finance Minister, Paul Davies backed the Prime Minister.

I think David Cameron is doing the right thing for us (calling for an EU budget freeze.) He's made the point that poorer regions should continue to receive economic aid. But the reality is that all regions will have to play their part if the budget is frozen.

– Paul Davies, AM Shadow Finance Minister

That was echoed by his leader, Andrew RT Davies who said it's 'only right and reasonable that where savings can be made they should be made' before going on to attack Labour's track record in handing the EU grants since 2000.

What the hell have they done with the first two tranches (of EU aid) and how can we have confidence that they will be any different with the next lot?

– Andrew RT Davies AM, Assembly leader Welsh Conservatives
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Funds that aid Wales need to be cut says PM

The Prime Minister has said that the European Union's cohesion and structural funds, which aid west Wales and the Valleys, need to be cut. David Cameron was answering questions in the Commons about EU leaders' failure to agree a new budget last week.

I am concerned that the Prime Minister says that there are savings to be made in cohesion and structural funds. He is aware that many areas of the UK, such as west Wales and the Valleys, enjoy receiving such payments. Is he saying that he can foresee a cut in that support?

– Plaid Cymru Parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd MP

There is a need for cuts in the overall cohesion and structural funds budget of the European Union. We should be frank and honest as a country in saying that, although there are regions of the UK that still benefit and should go on benefiting from structural funds, such funds should, on the whole, be for the poorest regions of the poorest countries. Britain’s negotiating position is different from that of many countries in that we do not go to Brussels and simply defend every penny that we receive; we try to seek an outcome that is right for the whole European Union.

– Prime Minister David Cameron MP

When west Wales and the Valleys got aid from the 2000-06 EU budget, it was thought it would be a one-off. But the current budget, covering 2007-13, includes1.2 billion Euros for the region. In 2014-20, the European Commission expects Wales to concentrate on advanced manufacturing and research.

There will also be help with improving transport links but the overall amount of money will depend of the size of the budget for the next seven years. The Commission insists that the aid must come from the European Union and that the UK Government should not run Britain's regional aid programme.

Prime Minister urged to intervene on future of Welsh Cavalry

Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith has today written to the Prime Minister urging him to step in to ensure the Queen's Dragoon Guards (known as the Welsh Cavalry) is not abolished as part of a defence review.

The UK Government says no decision's yet been made. But Owen Smith has asked David Cameron to make sure the regiment is safeguarded. Here's an extract:

Dear Prime Minister,

I understand your Government is intending to abolish 1st the Queen's Dragoon Guards (The Welsh Cavalry) as part of cuts to the British defence budget and an announcement could be made as early as this week.

It was reported in the Sunday Times that you intervened personally to safeguard the future of three Scottish regiments. I hope you will offer 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards that same protection.

There are now just three named regiments in Wales, compared with six in Scotland and sixty in England. Abolishing the Welsh Cavalry would be seen by many as another example of Wales being hit disproportionately hard by Government cuts...

... The Welsh Cavalry is the most senior frontline British force, it has a proud history and culture. Welsh soldiers join because they want to fight for their country as part of the British Army. It would be a tragedy to lose this. I urge you to intervene.