A significant figure in the European Union’s Brexit negotiations team has raised the possibility of councils accessing EU funding for regeneration and infrastructure projects after the transition period.
Stefaan de Rynck, senior advisor to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, told the Local Government Association conference this morning that Brexit is a “lose/lose proposition” and negotiations are to “mitigate the impact”.
He acknowledged the concerns raised by the LGA over the expected loss of EU funding, which amounts to £5.3bn between 2014 and 2020. The government has pledged to replace this funding with a shared prosperity fund, but there has been limited clarity on how this will work.
Mr de Rynck said recent budget proposals by the European Commission includes provision for the participation of non-EU members but added this would come at a cost.
He said: “The issue of possible participation in EU programmes will first of all depend on what the EU perceive in terms of the new co-operation rules with non-members.
“The priority is to support regional development within the EU. The Commission’s proposals also foresee participation for non-EU members in many programmes.
“Non-EU countries will have to pay for their participation, obviously, and an agreement must result in a balanced relationship in terms of non-EU members and contributions.”
The LGA has warned the loss of EU funding would have a significant impact on communities and has called for a replacement to be at least of equal value to the current sum for 2014-20.
Housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire on Tuesday announced the creation of a new ‘Brexit delivery board involving local government to “support the implementation of changes linked to Brexit within the sector”.
Brexit minister Suella Braverman told LGC the board would ensure councils have the resources to meet future “challenges”.