Wales politics

EU funding guarantee 'not enough', says Carwyn Jones

Carwyn Jones

Guarantees on EU funding from the UK government set to be announced on Saturday do not go far enough, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to announce that many projects agreed before the 2016 autumn statement will be fully funded even after Brexit.

But Mr Jones said the guarantee only covers "about half" of regional funding for Wales.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said the news provided "certainty".

Plaid Cymru said the announcement was "nothing new".

The Treasury is also expected to announce:

  • It will "put in place arrangements" to assess whether to guarantee funding for specific projects that might be signed after the statement, but while the UK remains an EU member
  • Current levels of agriculture funding, under the common agricultural policy pillar one scheme, will be upheld until 2020 before new UK arrangements come into play
  • It will underwrite payments of awards made following bids to the European Commission for projects, such as those made by universities, even if the projects continue after Brexit
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Mr Hammond said: "We recognise that many organisations across the UK which are in receipt of EU funding, or expect to start receiving funding, want reassurance about the flow of funding they will receive."

But Mr Jones, who has called for funding levels to be maintained following Brexit, said while the announcement was a "step in the right direction" and provides some reassurance to those currently in receipt of EU funding, it "doesn't go far enough".

"This guarantee only covers about half of the regional funding due to Wales and does not provide the long-term certainty needed and which was promised ahead of the referendum," the first minister said.

Calling for more detail from the UK government, he said: "We need a 'full guarantee' that funding will continue for our existing EU programmes to 2023."

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said: "Today's announcement by the UK government will provide stability and certainty as we prepare to leave the EU and is good news for Wales."

What does Wales receive in EU funds?

Wales is due to receive £1.89bn between 2014-2020 in structural funds - cash given to worse-off regions of the EU to help boost them economically.

It is not currently clear how much will be protected under the Chancellor's proposals to guarantee schemes already agreed or which will be agreed before the Autumn Statement.

However, the Welsh Government said around £830m in structural funds had already been committed, with £375m of proposals "in detailed development". It said it wanted to make funding decisions "as soon as we can".

Wales also gets £200m a year from the Common Agricultural Policy, and there is a £957m Rural Development Programme between 2014 and 2020 which included £400m in co-funding from the Welsh Government.

Of the latter, £503m has been invested, of which £346m is from the EU.

The Metro transport project, which proposes to overhaul the train network in the south Wales valleys and was expected to need EU funds, is not covered by the Treasury promise according to the Welsh Government.

'Nothing new'

Plaid Cymru's Treasury spokesman, MP Jonathan Edwards, said: "There is nothing new in this announcement - the prime minister has already confirmed that funds are secure up to 2020.

"There would have been uproar if the Chancellor hadn't made this statement - it is the bare minimum the UK government must guarantee."

But UKIP assembly group leader Neil Hamilton said it "shows it's high time Carwyn Jones and his Europhile colleagues apologised to the Welsh people for trying to scare them into voting Remain".

The Treasury has been asked to comment on Mr Jones' remarks.

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