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Finance Minister tells EU leaders the importance of EU Funds and Cohesion Policy to Wales

Finance Minister Jane Hutt has addressed the Sixth Cohesion Forum in Brussels this week where she told EU leaders how Structural Funds have benefited the Welsh economy. 

Attended by some 700 individuals, including Ministers and leaders from national and regional governments, and institutions across the EU, the Forum discussed the contribution of EU Cohesion Policy, the main investment policy of the EU, in delivering on the goals Europe 2020 strategy, by creating jobs and reducing disparities across the EU.

The Finance Minister joined the debate to highlight the significant progress and impact created by Cohesion Policy through the delivery of EU funds in Wales, including winning four prestigious EU RegioStars awards – an accolade bestowed upon Europe’s most pioneering and innovative projects.

Finance Minister said:

“I am delighted to have joined this very important debate. EU funds through Cohesion Policy have already helped to create some 27,200 (gross) jobs and some 9,100 enterprises in Wales. In addition, some 180,300 people have gained qualifications and over 60,000 have been helped into work. EU funds have been and will continue to be vital for Wales, and so too is the UK and Wales’ relationship with Europe so that our businesses can thrive and our people will prosper.”

The Forum marked the publication of the Sixth Cohesion Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion which also outlines how future EU investments will be focused on key areas to benefit businesses and citizens, such as research and innovation, energy efficiency, skills and employment, and social inclusion.

Finance Minister added:

“Our EU investment priorities to be delivered over 2014– 2020 are closely aligned to our Programme for Government and Europe 2020 strategies. With the help of the European Commission and our Welsh partners, we have made excellent progress in embracing the principles of concentration, integration and simplification to maximise impact and create a lasting legacy from these EU investments, helping to drive economic growth and jobs for the benefit of Wales.”

The report also analyses the state of cohesion of the EU and highlights how EU Cohesion Policy has helped inject much needed investment in many EU Member States during a time of financial and economic pressures, and has helped to create vital financial stability to drive private sector investment.

Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, welcomed the attendance of the Finance Minister and said:

"The Welsh experience is an excellent example of how the UK regions can benefit from working with EU funds to boost their potential. It is great to have Jane Hutt at the Forum: we need UK voices in all important debates in Brussels."

"EU funds have played a significant role in economic development in Wales. This is set to continue during the next seven years with the development of strategically-focussed programmes closely aligned with the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs. I wish to commend the Welsh authorities for their continued cooperation with the European Commission in ensuring that the new EU programmes will continue to benefit Wales and provide maximum added value and tangible results on the ground."

While in Brussels the Minister also met with the French Europe Minister Harlem Desir, the Lithuania Finance Minister Rimantas Sadzuis, a number of Commission Directors General and  Welsh MEPs to discuss the progress and opportunities through future EU funds.

Channel website: https://www.icaew.com

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