The Local Government International Bureau has published European cohesion policy: the local government response to Agenda 2000 to stress the need for continuing European aid to bring lagging or restructuring UK regions up to a minimum level. UK local government currently receives a total of£1.5 billion a year in European aid.
The LGIB makes three key recommendations to protect struggling UK areas:
- Eligibility criteria for structural funds should go beyond unemployment figures, and include measures of competitiveness, social exclusion and GDP per head
- There should not be a mid-term review of grants allocated after 2000, as three-year programmes are too short to be effective and do not encourage long-term planning.
As the European Commission is planning to publish six draft regulations this spring, which will set out in detail the consequences of Agenda 2000, the LGIB is seeking support from MPs and MEPs to help lobby its case.