MEP welcomes funding lifeline for Highlands and Islands

06 July 2005
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith today welcomed the European Parliament vote to support continued structural funding for Scotland and to offer a funding lifeline to the Highlands and Islands.

The Parliament voted by a thumping majority of 574 votes to 45 to endorse a package of measures for continued regional development funding across Europe and special funding measures for former objective 1 areas, like the Highlands and Islands. This goes against the position advocated by the UK government.

Speaking after the vote Mr Smith said

"This move by the Parliament offers a real lifeline to the Highlands and Islands in terms of access to European funding cash. The UK government's position would deprive Scotland of any chance at this money and ignore the needs of places like the Highlands and Islands that were major beneficiaries before enlargement.

I asked the chamber yesterday to support funding for Scotland and in particular to support statistical effect funding that benefits old objective 1 areas. This vote shows that across Europe there is a desire to make structural funding available to all who need it, whatever country they live in.

This is not the end though, we have to continue in our efforts to convince the UK and other governments to support this position, otherwise there will be no budget agreement. This vote has done more for our chances of retaining Euro cash than anything the UK government or the Scottish Executive have done throughout this whole debate."

Note to Editors

The final reading of the Hatzidakis report produced by the Regional Committee of the European Parliament was passed by 574 votes to 45 with 44 abstentions.

The votes endorsed the continuation of European Regional Development Funding across the EU, rather than a restriction to new member states.

An amendment was also accepted allowing regions that would have qualified for objective 1 under the EU15 to receive so called "statistical effect" funding equal to 85% of full objective 1 funding. equal to 85% of full objective 1 fund