European Commissioner warning to North East on EU exit

Johannes Hahn EU regional policy commissioner Johannes Hahn says grants have helped create thousands of jobs

Related Stories

A European Union commissioner has warned that if the UK were to leave the EU, the North East of England could be hit harder than other parts of the country.

Regional policy commissioner Johannes Hahn told BBC's Sunday Politics that less developed regions like the North East would be likely to suffer more if Britain was outside the EU.

He also defended the EU's record, saying grant aid had created or safeguarded more than 22,000 jobs in the region.

European aid

Start Quote

Johannes Hahn

The lesser-developed regions have an interest to be part of Europe because you can benefit from the strength of being in a big family”

End Quote Johannes Hahn EU regional policy commissioner

The North East has received hundreds of millions of pounds in European aid - or structural funds - because its economy is less developed than other parts of the UK and Europe.

The region received more than £500m between 2008 and 2013, and another £600m will arrive over the next six years. In the UK, only Cornwall gets more per head of population.

UKIP argues the funds are just our own money coming back to us through the filter of Brussels bureaucrats.

It believes there would be more money available if the UK left the EU and retained the funds it currently contributes.

But Mr Hahn says UKIP should talk to the regional politicians who appreciate support from the EU. He says they welcome the certainty that's not always on offer from their national governments.

"I know the representatives of regions across Europe are in favour of the funds because it means they are guaranteed to receive European money for regional development," he said.

"The real value is that it is money provided for seven years. That's completely different from national budgets which are sometimes only made available for one or perhaps two years."

Single market
European Union flag The European Union provides structural funds to help the economies of less-developed regions

Commissioner Hahn also warned of the dangers of leaving the EU, and its single market.

He said: "It is not just about structural funds it is also about access to the European market. If the UK leaves it would also be outside the single market and that is something that would have to be taken into account.

"There are many consequences and that would have to be discussed by the British public, to balance the pros and cons, and afterwards they would have to decide."

Start Quote

Jonathan Arnott

Of course the regions need support, but it would be more efficient for us to spend our own money”

End Quote Jonathan Arnott UKIP candidate, North East

The commissioner also said it was in Britain's interests to see some of its money used to develop poorer EU members.

He said: "Additional members in particular from the former communist countries are a big market opportunity for Great Britain and its companies.

"These are the emerging markets of Europe. There are still significant increases of welfare possible, people can consume more if they get the right support and that could help British jobs."

EU membership

But UKIP has taken issue with Commissioner Hahn.

North East European election candidate Jonathan Arnott said: "I would ask the question, would you spend £20 to get a £10 shopping voucher. The European Union expects us to be grateful for that £10 voucher.

"Of course the regions need support, but it would be more efficient for us to spend our own money.

"I also do not see that UK taxpayers' money should be spent on developing the economies of Eastern Europe."

Richard Moss Article written by Richard Moss Richard Moss Political editor, North East & Cumbria

Ministers accused of letting nurseries 'wither on vine'

Council nurseries are the highest-rated part of England's school system yet minsters are accused of neglecting them

Read full article

More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    As the EU swells moving eastwards absorbing more poor nations , the only possible outcome will be that the richer nations become poorer as they spend billions developing the new poorer nations. This reduction in living standards for the richer nations and increase for the poorer will continue until there is equality across the EU. This new standard of living will be far lower than we are used to!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    In essence, the eu has been granted a sizeable chunk of UK taxpayers money over and above the cost of running it's gravy train.
    It then decides how a chunk of our taxes are to be spent in our country rather than our elected representatives.
    Nobody ever asked if you wanted to do this or thought it might be a good idea.
    In fact they(reds/yellows/blue) are determined not to let you have a say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    And as reported by the BBC, yesterday, the Civitas study shows EU membership has not had a positive effect on UK EU trade. One wonders who still believes the threats and scare mongering? As Clegg says lets expose the EU lies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Aside from him interfering in our politics which he isn't there to do, he surely realises that the funds we receive are rebates of our own money? It isn't an EU grant it is simply a bit of our own cash being returned, if he was telling Poland their tap would be cut back without our money being pumped in to their subsidy drip then there might be a story here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Only in your dreams!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Hannes Hahn is intervening in another state's electoral process.
    It's becoming a Brussels habit

    Contrary to publicity, there was a world before the eu existed and the well being of regions of the UK is not dependent on the eu.
    Sending billions of our own money to Brussels so it can be diced and sliced before a fraction of it is sent back to be spent here under eu direction is hardly helpful

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    @10 If Scotland leaves UK and we leave EU then we will find far more jobs moving north to Scotland than moving south to the North-East of England!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Usual alarmist nonsense for eurocrats
    It is only our money coming back, and if scotland leaves there will be a massive bonanza for the northeast as companies move slightly South
    Boom times for the north!

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Regardless of political affiliation we have there is no doubt that we get a higher percentage of EU money spent on us as a region than we get Westminster money. The North-East has consistently seen the lowest levels of investment from Westminster year after year under both Labour and Tory, and it is getting worse. Without local EU investment then the region would be even worse off than it is now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    They give back, inefficiently and in a poorly-targeted way, the money they get from *us*. Without these freeloading "EU commissioners" and their patronising "warnings" we could have much more to spend on infrastructure in our own country. It's better for all Europeans to be free of this EU maw. Roll on the euro elections and roll on a UKIP victory in the North East.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    UK workers work across the EU, why would we want to stop others coming here. We need a mix of skills & aren't they just taking Tebbitt's instruction to get on a bike to look for work that bit further. The EU offers greater opportunities for UK workers and safeguards against bosses who would otherwise focus purely on the bottom line.. We're safe & have a cap on hours thanks to the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    More political interference / scare stories from the EU in what is an internal matter for the UK!

    The fact that EU grants are OUR MONEY ANYWAY seems lost on this guy!

    And we don't need to be part of the EU to trade with the "former communist countries".

    I want my say on getting out of the EU as soon as possible!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    EU workers do drive wages down, the majority of UK workers are on above minimum wage. They have achieved this over many years of pay negotiations, in come EU worker paid minimum wage driving the average wage down. No need to cheat and pay them illegal wages, the majority of workers are paid 25% above minimum wage so paying EU workers minimum wage provides employer with 25% saving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    My husband and I have just watched Sunday Politics. Once again, it was centered in the North East. What does the North West have to do to be covered by your programme? Have another mass murder, because then you couldn't get enough coverage!
    It is the same every week. You only mentioned Cumbria once at the end of the programme.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    There are complex issues swilling around here.

    The essence however is grants and the race to the bottom.

    Could the UK survive living next to a huge economy offering grants to itself?

    Meanwhile China is giving itself grants.

    All part of the global race to the bottom.

    Do we opt out then? Giving grants to ourselves to compete in the global market?

    Next we will have negative corporation tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Typical of the BBC to give a biased report on workers in the UK from Europe. No mention of the large number of EU workers who have no intention of staying long term in the UK, they come here work hard and pay taxes however the majority of their income is sent home taking money out of the UK economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Mr Hahn would say that, wouldn't he. Its part of his contract of employment never to denigrate the EUSSR.


Page 2 of 2



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.