SNP MEP Calls For EU Funding For The Highlands To Continue Post-2013

21 February 2008
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today called for the continuation of EU funding support for the Highlands after 2013. EU funding under the current 2007-2013 programming period is due toend in 2013.

Discussions are currently underway in Brussels on thefuture shape of Europe's structural funds post-2013, looking at how they could be adapted to enable regions to address various new challenges they are likely to face from issues such as depopulation,climate change and energy supply, as well as how the funds can be used more effectively to improve the delivery of economic and social cohesion across Europe's regions.

It is likely that Scotland's share will be cut again asEU funding continues to move eastwards to Europe's new member states. Under the 2007-2013 programming period, Scotland's EU funding was cut by over 50% from £1.1 billion to £540.2 million, with the Highlands and Islands share reduced to £117 million.

Speaking from Strasbourg Mr Smith said:

"To ensure that Scotland continues to be covered by these EU development funds post-2013, it is essential that we do not take our eye off these discussions. While not disputing the economic development needs of the newer EUMemberStates, and it is right that the bulk of economic development support goes to the post-2004 member states, nonetheless it remains the case that the Highlands and Islands are also likely to need further support from the structural fundsafter 2013.

"The Highlands and Islands have benefited and continue to benefit from EU funding through a variety of valuable projects. While these have helped to boost economic growth as well aseducation and training infrastructure, the economic challenges that continue to confront the Highlands and Islands are such that I believe they still require continued support from the EU structural funds.

"I will be calling on theCommission to ensure that the economic development problems in all of Europe's regions, and not only those in the newer Member States,are recognised as they move towards budgetary and structural fund proposals for the post-2013 period. However, this debatein Brussels must be joined with discussions back in Scotland to ensure the Highlands and Islands do not miss out."

Note to Editors

1. MEPs adopted an own initiative report on the Commission's fourth report on progress in achieving EU economic and social cohesion policy aims, including the methods used in Member States to achieve them. The fourth report focuses on the 2000-2006 programming period, but also assesses preparations for 2007-2013. The report adopted by MEPs assesses the merits of using EU funding to promote the Lisbon growth and jobs strategy or solely to reduce socio-economic disparities within and between regions.