Wales has benefitted from over £4bn of European Structural Funding from the European Union since 2000, but with just weeks to go until the UK leaves the EU on January 31st, UK Government has given no assurances about any aspect of a proposed new fund to replace monies lost by leaving the EU, Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth has learned.
The Conservative UK Government initially promised a full consultation on the details of the new Shared Prosperity Fund – devised to replace EU funds the UK would lose access to due to Brexit – was due to be published by UK ministers before the end of 2018, yet with the UK’s exit from the EU just weeks away, details of the proposed fund are scarce, and the consultation is yet to take place.
Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Economy and Finance Rhun ap Iorwerth today pressed Welsh Government First Minister Mark Drakeford for any details regarding the new fund, and asked what assurances Welsh Government had been given by UK Government about the fund.
In his question to the First Minister, Mr ap Iorwerth said:
“We are moving towards life outside the European Union now, and we do have to look at safeguarding Welsh interests in that new context, and we are all agreed that it’s not just how much money comes to replace EU funding that’s important, but how those funds are spent.
“You mention that new flexibility that could emerge in certain areas, but what assurance have you received so far and what threats have you identified to date in terms of that principle that priorities should be set and decisions on expenditure should be made in Wales under this new fund?”
Wales has received over £4bn in European Structural funding since 2000.
With the UK set to leave the EU on Jan. 31st we urgently need clarity on how that funding is going to be replaced by UK Gov. and what say Wales has over how that money is spent.
— Rhun ap Iorwerth (@RhunapIorwerth) January 7, 2020
In response, First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
“We haven’t been given any assurances about any aspect of the new fund, there are no details in the Conservative Party manifesto, and we haven’t heard anything yet from the new Government. And that is why I said that it’s crucial that the new Government publishes the details and talks to us about those details.
“We here in Wales, and not just in the Government but with everybody that’s been such an important part of the way in which we’ve spent the European funding—we will all have to be clear about the new Government’s proposals to give us an assurance about the principles that we’ve mentioned today, and also they must collaborate with us to plan an effective strategy for the future.”