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EU URGED TO RECONSIDER ISLE OF WIGHT AID

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The Isle of Wight Council has made a complaint to the European ombudsman that it is missing out on millions of poun...
The Isle of Wight Council has made a complaint to the European ombudsman that it is missing out on millions of pounds of regional aid because of 'unfair and discriminatory' treatment by Eurostat, the European Union's statistical agency.

Eurostat has accepted that Cornwall, west Wales and the Valleys could be classed as statistical areas in their own right, allowing them to qualify for objective 1 status, but the Isle of White was rejected as too small.

The island, which was hoping for at least£20m-£30m to spend on a new airport, roads, business parks and training, is joined with its wealthier neighbour Hampshire for statistical purposes.

John Bentley, economic development manager at the council, said: 'Gross domestic product per head was 65% of the EU average in 1995, but by putting us together with Hampshire that became 99%.'

In its complaint, the island refers to article 158 of the Amsterdam treaty that calls for special treatment for backward island regions.

Jan Soderman, the ombudsman, has only advisory powers, and the island faces a race against time to get a ruling before regional aid is decided in March. If it fails to get Objective 1, it hopes to persuade the UK government to propose it for Objective 2.

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