EU Referendum

Alun Cairns: EU funding 'did not have an impact'

Alun Cairns

Assembly members should work out why communities receiving large sums of EU funding voted for Brexit, the Welsh secretary has said.

Alun Cairns said it was "strange" that places in the valleys, which benefited from EU aid, registered the strongest Leave vote in the referendum.

But he said that European policies did not have a "connection" with the public.

He told the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales the funding had not had an impact.

Under current EU funding programmes, due to run between 2014 and 2020, Wales receives £1.8bn in structural funds.

Most of the cash is spent in north Wales, west Wales and the south Wales valleys.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Heads of the Valleys road dualling scheme was one project to have benefited from EU funds

Mr Cairns, who backed the Remain campaign, said: "In that perspective I think everyone has to look at the sort of European policies that were being developed by the Welsh government, but also by the UK government, that obviously didn't have that connection with the public.

"The public didn't recognise the outcomes that were coming from those policies."

He added: "I think the sorts of Objective One funding that we all heard of for many years, as we used to call it, hasn't really had the impact.

"And I think that all assembly members of all political parties have got to reflect on that."

'Haven't connected'

There was too much complexity and bureaucracy in the way money was spent initially, Mr Cairns said.

Although EU-funded policies had become more efficient, "ultimately they haven't connected with people and I think that we need to reflect and people need to see outcomes", he said.

"It's not about how much money is spent to go in - it's what comes out at the end."

David Davies, pro-Brexit Conservative MP for Monmouth, has said he will work with the Welsh Government to ensure Wales gets its fair share of the money saved by leaving the EU.

On Friday, First Minister Carwyn Jones called for unity within the Labour party and the nation, saying it would now be "more difficult to attract investment into Wales and keep jobs in Wales".

Sunday Politics Wales is on BBC One Wales at 10:00 BST

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