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£20M EURO BOOST FOR SCOTTISH TRAINING INITIATIVES

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Training projects in Scotland will benefit from a£20m Euro-cash ...
Training projects in Scotland will benefit from a£20m Euro-cash

boost over the next two years, Scottish European affairs minister

Calum MacDonald has announced.

The money is being made available from the European Social Fund

under the Objective 4 programme - one of the European Structural

Funds' priority objectives. Decisions on distribution will be made

following consultation with our European partners over the summer.

Addressing the Employment in the Regions conference in Glasgow yesterday, Mr MacDonald said:

'The role of the European Social Fund in supporting member states'

employment initiatives will become increasingly important as we move

towards compliance with new European employment guidelines.

'This£20m will be available over the next two years to support

the policies contained in our Employment Action Plan, which aims to

help workers adapt to industrial changes.'

The current system of European Structural Funds are due to be

reformed when they expire in 1999.

Mr MacDonald added:

'The European Commission has published its proposals for reforming

Structural Funds by simplifying their administration and increasing

their effectiveness. This would involve maintaining the existing budget ceiling while concentrating coverage of the funds and reducing the number of Objectives from seven to three.

'The UK government is in full agreement with these principles.

Firstly, it is vital to reform the Structural Funds to enable the

enlargement of the European Union. Secondly, we are committed to

the concept of fairness in reform - eligibility and allocations should

target resources on countries or regions of greatest need.

'Where we do have some concerns about the commission's proposals

is on eligibility. The 75 per cent GDP criterion for Objective 1 may

need to be adjusted slightly to avoid areas being disqualified unfairly, and the commission's proposal to use unemployment rather than GDP as the main indicator for the new Objective 2 does not seem a very fair or accurate choice.

'We would also like to see more decisions on detailed issues being

devolved to regional and local level in order to improve and simplify

administration. These are issues which we will vigorously pursue at

tomorrow's informal meeting of European regional policy ministers

here in Glasgow.'

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