EUROPEAN STRUCTURAL FUNDS 2007-13 (7177/06,
Letter from the Chairman to Malcolm Wicks
MP, Minister of State for Energy, Department of Trade and Industry
Thank you very much for your Explanatory Memorandum
of 11 April dealing with 8216/06, 7177/06 and 8218/06 which was
considered by Sub-Committee A at their meeting on 25 April.
Whilst the Committee appreciate the fast moving
nature of these negotiations, there was some concern that the
timing of your Explanatory Memorandum would not have allowed for
proper Parliamentary scrutiny of these Proposals had they been
considered, as you indicate, on 25 April. As a result, we were
pleased to receive information from your officials that Council
consideration had been delayed.
On the distribution of Structural Funds between
rich and poor Member States, the Committee were pleased to see
the large increase in funding for the 10 new States plus the two
applicant countries. We note with satisfaction that the government
continued to push for such an allocation of the Funds.
On the management of the Structural Funds, you
describe some simplifications which have been achieved. We note
that you did not support, and the Council has not accepted, the
Commissions's proposal that, in order to improve financial control
it should be given increased discretion to withhold funds in cases
of doubt or suspicion. We would appreciate a fuller explanation
of your rejection of tighter controls, along the lines proposed
by the Commission.
The Committee noted the dates mentioned in paragraph
44 of your Explanatory Memorandum. We assume that they are the
result of an administrative oversight.
26 April 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP,
Minister of State for Industry and the Regions, Department of
Trade and Industry to the Chairman
I am writing in reply to your letter to Malcolm
Wicks dated 26 April referring to the Explanatory Memorandum on
the new Regulations to govern European Structural Funds over the
next Financial Perspective, 2007-2013. I am most grateful for
the effort made by the Committee in being able to consider the
Regulations to co-ordinate with the tight negotiation scheduling.
The timing of the EM was determined by the Inter-Institutional
Agreement and the issue of new versions of the regulations, representing
In your letter you ask why the UK did not support
the Commission's proposal that, in order to improve financial
control, the Commission should be given increased discretion to
withhold funds in cases of doubt and suspicion.
Throughout the negotiations the UK has pushed
for provisions encouraging better financial management. On this
point, we preferred a text that required Commission officials
to identify "evidence to suggest shortcomings" before
interrupting payments, rather than a text that would allow them
to do so on the less substantial basis of doubts or suspicions.
We do not believe that this represents a rejection of more effective
controls. We and other Member States believe that basing interruption
of payments on doubts and suspicions, rather than on evidence,
would be arbitrary. We wish to minimise the danger of unnecessary
interruption to the payment process and we believe that the agreed
text establishes more appropriate and effective controls.
You pointed out that there was an error on dates
in the section of the EM on Consultation. The text erroneously
confused two consultations, which was an oversight. A correction
will be issued.
I am glad to say that further progress in negotiations
means there will be few further significant changes to the texts
as you considered them. We will, of course, update your Committee
on these changes.
9 May 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP to
I am writing to update you on developments in
the negotiations on the regulations to govern the European Structural
Funds over the next budgetary period, 2007-2013.
On Friday 5 May the Council approved political
agreement on the Presidency compromise texts of the Structural
and Cohesion Fund regulations. The Austrian Presidency now expects
that the Parliament will adopt the Regulations in its plenary
session in July, prior to formal Council approval, publication
and entry into force of the Regulations later in the month.
At Coreper on 26 April, after we submitted texts
of the draft regulations to you, the Austrian Presidency proposed
possible amendments in the General Regulation in order to secure
the agreement of the European Parliament. Drafting on these points
was agreed by Member States in Coreper on 3 May. These were the
Article 10 now specifies the types
of organisations with which partnership should be organised (where
Article 14 now gives a specific prominence
throughout implementation to accessibility to Structural Funding
for people with disabilities.
A new Article (14 bis) makes reference
to the over-arching importance of sustainable development, and
of protecting and improving the environment.
In Article 18 of the General Regulation
a further 250 million has been added to the Structural Funds
budget, to be allocated to transnational and inter-regional co-operation.
There has also been some reallocation of funds within the Co-operation
The UK has consistently sought to raise the
importance of environmental considerations, so we welcome that
I attach the new texts of the regulations (not
printed). We expect the regulations to be published and enter
into force by the end of July.
25 May 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 progress in the
adoption of the regulations to govern the EU Structural Funds
As Margaret Hodge wrote to you on 25 May the
Council had then agreed minor changes to the Regulations in order
to meet the concerns of the European Parliament and to anticipate
the Parliament's second reading. This proved to be successful,
and at second reading the Parliament adopted the package of regulations
on 5 July, by a very large majority. We expect the regulations
to be published shortly.
11 August 2006