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‘Welsh Government must learn from previous EU funding mistakes’ – Kirsty Williams

November 1, 2011 3:02 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are this week using their debate to urge the Welsh Government to learn from previous mistakes regarding their allocation of EU funding.

Latest official figures from the EU show that West Wales and the Valleys have become relatively poorer despite receiving billions in EU funding.

59 of the 66 European regions that have received EU regeneration money have become relatively better off. On the other hand, Wales' relative GDP has declined from 66.8% of EU average to 64.4% of the EU average.

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams, commented:

"It is a damning verdict on the Welsh Government's economic competence. Most areas that received EU funding got wealthier, while in Wales we got relatively poorer.

"It is crucial that the Government learns the lessons from the past. There is still unspent European money, and we could qualify for even further funding in future. This money needs to be spent creating jobs and helping to get our economy moving.

"The Welsh Government has in the past lacked any sort of vision for how to spend billions of pounds of EU money. They have never had a clear strategy on what the money should actually be used for. Hopefully lessons have been learnt from past mistakes and they will put this right if we qualify for even further funding in 2013."

The Welsh Liberal Democrat motion also calls for the Welsh Government to establish a successor scheme to POWIS (Prince of Wales Innovation Scholarships) with similar aims and objectives.

Shadow Minister for Europe, Eluned Parrott said:

"It appears that the Welsh Government decided to withdraw funding for POWIS without actually having a plan to replace it. The scheme offered a link between research and entrepreneurship, which is vital if we are to encourage our economy to grow.

"Recruiting the best graduate talent to boost innovation among business and providing high-quality opportunities for talented young people, is exactly what we in Wales need.

"The Welsh Government abruptly decided to scrap POWIS with little warning. This was sad news considering the valuable contribution the scheme made. We are now asking for the Government to set out clearly what they arranging as a replacement for the scheme."