Research highlights positive impact of EU funding
The Structural Funds Evaluation Report shows that the £3.8bn programmes, which included Objective 1 for West Wales and the Valleys, delivered wide-ranging benefits to the people of Wales with key targets exceeded for job creation, tackling economic inactivity and support for businesses.
During 2000–2006, EU projects, delivered in partnership, helped to create 52,800 net jobs and 3,100 net small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). They also helped participants to gain just over 200,000 qualifications and 98,700 (net) economically inactive and unemployed individuals into employment or further learning.
In addition, 185km of transport routes were built or upgraded, nine town centres regenerated and over 370,000 tonnes of municipal waste recycled or composted. The programmes also created wider community benefits, such as through the development of partnerships and associated capacity building.
Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies, said:
“This report demonstrates how important the EU Structural Funds have been in helping us in our efforts to revitalise the Welsh economy and reduce the widening of historical gaps evident before devolution. This is particularly evident in the areas of employment and income levels, which are very important to the people of Wales.”
“Many challenges remain to create a sustainable, inclusive and prosperous nation, but our ambitious Programme for Government is seeking to deliver just that. The achievements outlined in the report demonstrate that with the welcome and sustained support of the European Structural Funds, the Welsh Government and its partners have begun to tackle the long-term effects of structural decline and change and are helping to improve the economy and lives of the people of Wales.“
The report’s publication comes over half way into the delivery of the current EU funding round (2007–2013), where EU projects have already supported over 35,000 people into work and over 83,000 to gain qualifications, and created nearly 11,000 (gross) jobs and 2,150 (gross) new enterprises.
It also comes as preparations are underway in developing the prospective European programmes 2014–2020 for Wales.
Mr Davies added:
“Looking ahead we are determined to develop new, effective and innovative ways through which to deploy EU funds, and to ensure our European Programmes are amongst the most successful in the EU.”
Future EU funding investment priorities will be announced in May this year following the completion of a recent reflection exercise seeking early views from Welsh partners on lessons learned from the EU funding programmes. A formal public consultation will be held in late 2012 / early 2013 on the new Structural Funds programmes for which Wales is now likely to qualify. The amount of funding to be allocated to Wales is expected to be known in 2013.