European Development Cash Set To Continue After 2013

European funding will continue to help Scilly and Cornwall in the future, says one of our islands’ MEPs, Lib Dem Graham Watson.

As one of the poorest parts of the UK, our two areas gets maximum support from the EU’s Convergence Fund, but there have been fears that if too much progress is made, the cash support might end in 2013.

This week the European Commission said areas with improved prosperity, but still not achieving the average European salary, will get “transitional funding”.

Graham told us the average income per head in Cornwall and Scilly was less than 70% of the European average, and that has now risen to above 75%, demonstrating the progress that’s been made in recent years, but also highlighting that there’s still some way to go to get to the average income level.

Diana Mompoloki, the Council’s Strategic Investment Manager, says the Convergence money is currently funding a whole range of projects on the islands, including like Porthmellon Road upgrade, the quay and Porthcressa redevelopment, superfast broadband and support for businesses, such as LAG, the abattoir, farming and fishery projects.

She says the move out of Convergence is good, as it means that the investments made have improved job opportunities and incomes but Scilly still has the fourth lowest average wage in the UK, largely due to our dependence on tourism which is seasonal and quite poorly paid.

The Commission is now proposing the Transition Fund to gradually phase out the subsidies and Graham thinks this could still be around two thirds of what we currently receive.

So cash for projects like the LAG and Porthcressa regeneration may be there well into the  decade.

Graham says there are many who “jump on their soapbox and tells us to get out of Europe.” But he says that this funding shows how money from richer countries in Europe, such as Germany and Denmark, is helping poorer regions.

He added that he will be working with authorities in Cornwall to ensure the application for funding is made in time and to access the most money it can for the region.