Europe Minister David Lidington MP tells ITV Cymru Wales the European Union needs to be "more open and democratic." He also said he understands why a majority of Welsh people said in a recent poll they wanted to leave the EU.
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.
Iestyn Davies of the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales has welcomed the rubber-stamping of the EU budget by MEPs. But he says the more than €2bn of aid coming to Wales between next year and 2020 must be spent helping businesses.
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:
– John Bufton MEP, UKIP
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.
Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans calls for people living in communities which will benefit from European aid to be given more say in how it's spent. Her call follows a vote by MEPs backing EU budget plans which will see more than €2bn of aid granted to Wales between 2014 and 2020.
Labour MEP for Wales, Derek Vaughan, has welcomed a vote in the European Parliament which rubber-stamps the EU budget for 2014-2020 including proposals to give Wales more than €2bn in aid.
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.
UKIP has unveiled its Welsh candidates for next year's European Parliament elections. The party currently has one of the four MEPs sent from Wales to Brussels. The four candidates are:
- Nathan Gill
- James Cole
- Caroline Jones
- David Rowlands