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EU funding hits major target
The challenging target was set for the 2007-2013 Structural Funds programmes in response to the economic downturn, and with match funding will generate an investment of £1.8 billion through 119 projects, helping nearly 29,000 Welsh businesses and providing employment and training opportunities for 280,000 individuals.
Mr Jones, who is the Minister for Economy and Transport also welcomed the European Commission’s recent agreement to Assembly Government proposals for revisions to the programmes.
Said Mr. Jones:
"When I met Commission officials in Brussels earlier this year, I asked them to consider allowing flexibility within the programmes to help Wales respond to the global economic downturn and the resulting pressures on sources of match funding, particularly from the private sector.
"I now welcome the Commission’s positive response to our proposals, and I am grateful for the support of the All-Wales Programme Monitoring Committee and delivery partners, including the WLGA, in helping us to reach this agreement.
"European funding is a great asset in these difficult economic times and our ability to maximise the use of every pound available is more important than ever to benefit our businesses, people and communities in Wales. Reaching this target ahead of schedule will help Wales on the road to recovery and demonstrates how we can back up our tailor made policies with hard cash to secure the greatest positive impact."
Mr Jones also said that while the overall strategy for the Structural Funds programmes remains focused on addressing medium- to long-term structural weaknesses and challenges, recent changes have been made to the programmes to respond to current economic circumstances.
“Our case to the European Commission for an increase in the proportion of funding provided by the EU came against the backdrop of the downturn and exchange rate movements, which present challenges to both public and private sectors in securing match funding for Structural Funds projects. The agreement we have reached should help alleviate the pressure on match funders and means we can better channel resources to support our priorities, particularly strengthening support for unemployed people and those who are most disadvantaged in the labour market.
“These measures will help to ensure that businesses, communities and individuals are well placed to benefit from the economic recovery.”