Wales politics

More European aid set to be available for Wales' poor areas

Wales' poorest areas are set to qualify for a third round of European funding to help pull them out of relative poverty.

But European Commissioner for regional policy Johannes Hahn says there should be fewer projects receiving aid money in future.

He also said there will have to be "quantifiable results."

Billions of pounds has been received over the last 10 years and qualifying for a third time has drawn criticism.

"The Labour government have said themselves in the past that we shouldn't be receiving money in the future at this present point," said Monmouth AM Nick Ramsey.

"Because that money should've been spent on creating business and creating enterprise in a way that we wouldn't need these sorts of handouts."

In 1999 European funding was hailed as a once-in-a-generation chance for the poorest parts of Wales.

But performance per head has fallen - gross domestic product (GDP) at 68.4 % of the European average in 2009, compared to 79% in 2005.

'Positive impact'

The Welsh government says the figures which suggest the economy in poorer parts of Wales has fallen further behind the European average are misleading.

It says GDP does not take into account people commuting to work in the cities.

Opposition parties say billions in European aid has failed to work.

And qualifying for another round of aid means the funding to date has not had the desired effect.

Many have asked why they have not seen the improvements that were originally promised.

But Mr Hahn said: "If all the investments which have been launched which have not yet been finished are finished, I think the positive impact will be there."

And the Welsh government's Europe Minister Alun Davies is optimistic over the needs for even further funding.

He said: "The sort of investments that many have seen in our communities up and down Wales are the investments that I hope will mean the qualification this time is the final qualification of European funding of this sort."

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