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CRITICAL TIMING OF EU REGIONAL POLICY CHIEF'S TOUR

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European commissioner for regional policy Danuta Hübner will deliver a keynote speech on the future of regional fun...
European commissioner for regional policy Danuta Hübner will deliver a keynote speech on the future of regional funding and its impact on the north west of England at the 2006 North West regional conference tomorrow.

Ms Hübner will join more than 300 delegates, including local authority and business leaders, regional stakeholder organisations and the chairman and chief executive of the North West Regional Development Agency.

The visit comes at a critical time, near to the end of a two year period of intense lobbying of Whitehall and Brussels about European funding issues vital to the region by the Assembly and its key regional partners.

Ms Hübner will also travel to Liverpool where she will visit a number of Objective 1 funded projects.

The commissioner will see how European investment has helped a range of community, business, heritage and environmental projects and will meet with users, project managers and key officials.

Ms Hübner said:

'I am delighted to return to the north west of England and address this important regional conference in Warrington. I am also keen to listen to people in the region and my visit to Liverpool will give me the chance to experience at first hand how the well planned investment of European funding can then attract substantial private resources to foster sustainable regeneration.'

Peter Smith, chair of the NWRA executive board said:

'It is a real coup to get the European commissioner responsible for regional funding to visit the north west at such an important time. Over the last two years the region has pulled together to make a strong case for substantial funding to help reduce the performance gap between the north west and the south east. We stand ready to maximise the effectiveness of the funding we receive.'

NWDA chief executive Steven Broomhead added:

'I am pleased to welcome Commissioner Hubner to the region, which is a valuable opportunity to highlight the significant benefits that European funding has brought to both Merseyside and the north west. Considerable progress has been made to drive forward the regional economy and the new regional economic strategy sets out a clear vision and priorities for future development. Strong and effective partnership working will be crucial to achieving this and working together with the NWRA, GONW and sub-regional partnerships the Agency will continue to ensure the region is in a strong position to maximise the benefits of European funding.'

Under the banner 'Partnership and Progress' the conference will also look at how regional partnerships involving all three key regional agencies - the NWDA, NWRA and Government Office for the North West - can work more effectively. Sustainable development, the chancellor's vital comprehensive spending review in 2007 and the future of transport in the region will all figure prominently.

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