COHESION POLICY IN SUPPORT OF GROWTH AND
JOBS: COMMUNITY STRATEGIC GUIDELINES 2007-13 (10684/05, 5745/06,
Letter from the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP,
Minister of State for Industry and the Regions, Department of
Trade and Industry to the Chairman
Thank you for your letter of 11 January 2006,
advising me that your Committee is continuing to keep the above
Explanatory Memorandum 10684/05 under scrutiny.
This is clearly a good time to update you on
the negotiations on Structural and Cohesion Funds reform post-2006.
At the December European Council the Member
States agreed a Structural and Cohesion Funds budget of 308 billion
euros for the 2007-13 Financial Perspective. As in the Commission's
original proposal, expenditure will be focused on three objectives:
a Convergence Objective for regions with a GDP below 75 per cent
of the EU average; a Competitiveness Objective for other regions;
and a Co-operation Objective for cross-border and transnational
As a result, we estimate that the UK will receive
a total of approximately 9.4 billion euros (in 2004 prices) in
Structural Funds receipts from 2007-13.
Of this, the UK will receive approximately 2.6
billion euros in Convergence funding for its poorest regions (I
have no doubt that this will often be called by its old title
of "Objective I"). Cornwall and West Wales and the Valleys
will receive full Convergence funding, while the Highlands and
Islands will receive phasing-out Convergence funding averaging
approximately half of its current allocation.
The UK will also receive approximately 6.2 billion
euros in Competitiveness funding for its other regions. Of this,
South Yorkshire and Merseyside would receive phasing-in Competitiveness
funding averaging approximately a third of the intervention rates
for the UK's future full Convergence regions. It will be for the
Government, in agreement with the Commission, to decide how the
remaining Competitiveness funding should be allocated between
the UK's nations and regions.
Finally, the UK will receive approximately 0.6
billion euros in Co-operation funding. We will need to agree with
the Commission how this should be allocated.
In summary, the agreement reached at the European
Council represents a good deal for the UK. The overall budget
is closer to our position than earlier proposals but our regions
will continue to receive significant Structual Funds receipts
in the next Financial Perspective and our poorer regions in particular
will continue to receive substantial EU funds for regional development.
The next stage is for the Council to reach agreement
with the European Parliament on the budget. It will be for the
Austrian Presidency to lead on the inter-institutional agreement
with the Parliament in the next few months.
On 18 January the European Parliament passed
a resolution rejecting the December European Council budget settlement.
This was entirely expected as it was always extremely unlikely
that the Parliament would accept the Council's budget settlement
without any alteration.
The Austrian Presidency will now open negotiations
with the European Parliament with a view to agreeing minor changes
to the structure of the budget to satisfy the Parliament's concerns.
These will then be re-presented to the Council for discussion
and eventual agreement, we expect, in the Spring.
We will continue to keep the Committee informed
of future developments.
4 February 2006
Letter from the Chairman to John Healey
MP, Financial Secretary, HM Treasury
Thank you very much for your Explanatory Memorandum
5745/06 which Sub-Committee A considered at their meeting on 28
March. Given the interest of the Committee in the Lisbon Agenda
we have decided to hold the document under scrutiny until our
recently published report on the Agenda is debated on the floor
of the House.
On the Explanatory Memorandum itself, the Sub-Committee
were pleased to see the broad welcome the Government gives to
this Communication. The Committee also notes your belief that
the National Reform Programmes themselves are not sufficient to
deliver the Lisbon goals; what mechanisms do you suggest for strengthening
the Open Method of Coordination to ensure that the policies outlined
in the Programmes are implemented?
Would you please also provide details of the
discussions on the Lisbon Agenda which took place at both the
recent ECOFIN Council and European Council meetings.
30 March 2006
Letter from John Healey MP to the Chairman
Thank you for your letter of 30 March about
the Explanatory memorandum on the European Commissions's Communication
Time to move up gear: The new partnership for jobs and growth.
The Lisbon National Reform Programmes (NRPs)
are a welcome step forward with all Member States pledging to
undertake structural reforms, but what matters now is that Member
States live up to those commitments and implement timely and effective
reforms. Strengthening the OMC, broadly along the lines suggested
by the Lords Select Committee on the EU following its recent review
of Lisbon, could also help. In this context, the Government sees
merit in a template for Lisbon NRPs with all Member States to
include some common elements and the core Lisbon structural indicators,
to facilitate comparability.
Peer review also has an important role to play,
and that is why during our Presidency, ECOFIN undertook a review
of the first Lisbon NRPs, as well as reviewing the Commission's
first Annual Progress Report earlier this year. ECOFIN Ministers
have pledged to continue monitoring and evaluating Member. States
progress in implementing the Lisbon agenda and we understand the
Finnish Presidency plans a further ECOFIN review of Lisbon NRPs
I hope you find this response helpful.
29 May 2006
Letter from the Chairman to John Healey
Thank you very much for your Explanatory Memorandum
5745/06 on the Commission's Lisbon Synthesis Report. This was
considered by Sub-Committee A at their meeting on 20 June.
The Committee have decided to continue to hold
this document under scrutiny until their report, "A European
Strategy for Jobs and Growth" published on 16 March 2006,
has been debated on the floor of the House.
22 June 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Ian McCartney MP, Minister
for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, Department of Trade
and Industry/Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman
I am writing to update you on amendments agreed
to the Community Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion.
DTI provided an explanatory Memorandum 11706/06
on the Guidelines on 27 July, to the Guidelines as published on
14 July. However the Council has agreed some amendments since
that version was published. Most of these are minor, but one is
significant because it establishes the status of the Guidelines
The significant amendment is to the Articles
governing the Guidelines. Member States were concerned that actions
included in the Guidelines might be seen as compulsory, and actions
not included might be seen as not eligible. Therefore the Council
agreed to state the indicative nature of the Guidelines very clearly
in the text of the decision. Where in 11706/06 "the Member
States shall ensure that the national frameworks and operational
programmes are consistent with these guidelines", this is
amended so that the Guidelines are "adopted as an indicative
framework for the Member States for the preparation of the national
strategic reference frameworks and operational programmes for
the period 2007 to 2013." The UK was one of many Member States
calling for clarity here and we welcome the amendment.
There were other minor amendments, correcting
references, for internal consistency and consistency with the
regulations, and to avoid unnecessary repetition. The other substantive
indicated priorities on transport
in 1.1.1 are limited to "as appropriate";
text on Research and Technological
Development now acknowledges that market failures do exist;
under Guidelines 1.3 (More and better
jobs) a reference to cultural infrastructure is added;
also in 1.3 text on skills is amended,
it now includes a reference (suggested by the UK) to National
Looking ahead, the REGI Committee of the European
Parliament is likely to address the Guidelines on 11-12 September,
and we expect the Parliament to adopt the guide lines with few
or no further amendments.
10 August 2006
Letter from Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Minister
for Employment Relations and Postal Services, Department of Trade
and Industry to the Chairman
On 10 August my colleague Ian McCartney wrote
to you to update you with amendments agreed to the Community Strategic
Guidelines on Cohesion. He stated that we expected the European
Parliament to adopt the Guidelines with few or no further amendments.
On 11 September the Regions Committee of the
European Parliament agreed a Resolution on the Guidelines. One
oral amendment was agreed to add a new citation calling for discussions
with the EP prior to the mid-term review.
We now expect the Council to adopt the Guidelines
on 6 October. I regret that this means that it is likely that
we will need to override your scrutiny reserve before your Committee
meets again. Margaret Hodge will write again following adoption.
The Guidelines are the last element in the set
of Community legislation to govern the Structural Funds 2007-13. Any
delay at this point would mean a delay to the start of Structural
Funds Programmes across the Community.
18 September 2006
3 Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session
2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 41. Back