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A powerful new European partnership has been forged by West Sussex CC to ensure it has an effective voice when lobb...
A powerful new European partnership has been forged by West Sussex CC to ensure it has an effective voice when lobbying for European funds for the on-going benefit of the communities it serves, particularly areas of deprivation.

The county council has formed an alliance with other prosperous regions in the European Union to continue meeting and pressing the European Commission and national governments on its particular needs.

After a meeting with senior European Commission officials, Brad Watson, county council cabinet member for external affairs, said: 'Next year is a key year for the European Union with enlargement and European parliament elections. Local authorities like West Sussex individually and collectively must engage in the debate about the future of European funding.

'The European Commission is very keen to work with local authorities throughout Europe, as well as with national governments. And now is the time for local authorities, such as West Sussex, to present well documented arguments to keep European funding.'

Currently, West Sussex CC, along with other organisations across the county, receives £4m a year from the European Social Fund, particularly for training programmes for disadvantaged people and for access to employment.

In addition, funding is received for education, transport and IT projects. Added to this, the Common Agriculture Policy provides £25m.

Mr Watson added: 'Even prosperous regions like West Sussex and the South East of England need EU funding. We do not wish to be in the gift of national government - we have to be pragmatic and fight our corner.

'The county council must seek money from European as well as national bodies because we have to solve issues, such as social inclusion and urban and rural regeneration.

'If we don't make our views known now, we shall only have ourselves to blame if we are cut off from EU funding programmes in the future.

'Even in 'prosperous' West Sussex, there are several pockets of severe deprivation. We can provide help and support from the European Social Fund.

'By working together with other regions in Europe, we can see that we continue to provide support to disadvantaged individuals and communities in West Sussex.'

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