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European election campaign 'difficult' says Labour MEP

Despite the latest opinion poll showing that Welsh voters would narrowly back Britain leaving the European Union, Labour MEP Derek Vaughan has said that he believes Wales remains pro-European.

He was cautious about another poll finding that he will be joined by at least one Labour colleague from Wales after next year's European election, with the party also having a chance of winning a third seat in a close contest with Plaid Cymru and UKIP.

Mr Vaughan is currently Labour's only Welsh MEP. Plaid Cymru and UKIP also each have one seat, as do the Conservatives, who seem set to hold their seat. The pictures are from the European Parliament.

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Likely share out of Euro money revealed

ITV Cymru Wales understands that the European Commission is close to approving the Welsh Government's proposals for spending €2.1 billion of aid to West Wales and the Valleys over the next seven years. Rough percentages have been given to the different spending priorities.

  • Roads, public transport and other Infrastructure 50%
  • Small and medium-sized businesses 15%
  • Research and development 15%
  • Low carbon projects 12%
  • Information technology 8%

Although nothing is officially decided until the plans are formally presented as part of the UK Government's submission, the Welsh Government is close to securing half the money for its major priority of infrastructure development. The other four priorities have been set by the European Commission.

In a separate development, Welsh Labour MEP Derek Vaughan says Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn is "receptive" to the UK Government's plan to avoid a projected cut in the aid budget for West Wales and the Valleys to nearer €1.6 billion. Parts of England will lose out as a result.

It just seemed a nonsense that Wales could get a cut of 22%. We have won the arguments with the UK government, now we need to win the arguments with the Commission. The Commissioner is very sympathetic towards Wales. He knows and understands that Wales usually uses the funds well.

– Derek Vaughan MEP

Lobbying efforts largely successful says MEP

Welsh Labour MEP Derek Vaughan says the aid cut for Wales is still 'disappointing' but fairer than first thought. He hopes that it will be possible to draw down additional funds as well and perhaps even get to a position where Wales benefits more than ever.

Whilst it is disappointing to see Wales’ allocation being reduced in this way, especially in the difficult economic climate that we are facing, the announcement gives a much fairer distribution to areas such as West Wales and the Valleys than initially thought.

I have been lobbying hard alongside the Welsh Labour Government to avoid an even bigger cut in support for Wales and led the campaign to persuade the UK Government and the European Commission of the need to protect the most vulnerable parts of Wales in this settlement.

Our efforts have been largely successful and it is clear that that the coalition government has been forced to acknowledge the strength and validity of our arguments.

The figure is not far off what Wales has received in the current funding round and when put together with other EU funding pots will mean that we could be in a position to benefit more than ever from assistance available at a European level.

At a time when the UK Government is embarking on a mistaken course of austerity, EU Structural Funding will provide Wales with the chance to continue investing in infrastructure and driving forward the generation of jobs and growth, building an economy that is modern and fit for purpose.

– Derek Vaughan MEP

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Labour MEP welcomes reduced EU aid cut

Welsh MEP, Derek Vaughan, says the credit for a reduced cut in EU aid belongs to lobbying by Labour politicians. And he says the task now is to find ways to fill the shortfall.