Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance & Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food
The Welsh Government is fully committed to the integration of the future European Structural and Investment (ESI) funds as one of the key driving principles to help transform our economic prospects for growth and jobs in Wales and also make it easier to engage, access and benefit from EU funds.
This commitment is reflected by the fact that integration of the four ESI funds – ERDF, ESF, EAFRD and EMFF – is being progressed on a number of levels, including:
- the work of the European Programmes Partnership Forum in providing strategic direction on the development of the future ESI programmes and the recent joint public consultation;
- the development of a Wales Chapter as part of the UK Partnership Agreement;
- agreement that the Economic Prioritisation Framework recommended as part of the Guilford Review should highlight economic opportunities for all ESI funds; and
- the development of a single portal access to EU funds and, where possible, common application processes and guidance, due diligence and appraisal, performance indicator and monitoring arrangements.
The Welsh European Funding Office and Welsh Government Rural and Fisheries teams are taking forward this work in partnership with key stakeholders and implementation arrangements are being progressed in line with the timetable for submission of the Structural Funds programmes to the European Commission (EC) this October and the Rural Development programme in 2014.
As part of this integration, the Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, and I have recently agreed to the establishment of a single Wales Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC) for future European Structural and Rural Development funds which are managed by the Welsh Government. Future arrangements for the Fisheries fund (EMFF) are still under consideration. It is expected that the EC will require one UK programme and that this will have its own PMC operating at UK level, but with representation from Wales.
A PMC has specific functions determined by EC regulations and meets regularly to discharge these, including approving project selection criteria, examining the progress made in delivering agreed programme objectives and agreeing any modifications to the programmes.
The establishment of a single PMC is widely supported by our partners on the basis of the feedback received during the recent public consultation on the new programmes. I also recently had the opportunity to discuss our proposals with the European Commission and members of the current All-Wales Structural Funds Programme Monitoring Committee, chaired by Ken Skates AM, on 21 June.
A single PMC across the Structural and Rural funds will facilitate a more holistic assessment of the impact and effectiveness of the funds set against the new Economic Prioritisation Framework and enhanced management and monitoring information that goes beyond the PMC’s regulatory core functions as recommended by the published Dr Guilford Report on future implementation arrangements. I also expect these arrangements to deliver a sharper focus on how the funds interact with each other and highlight opportunities for added value by paying greater attention to complementarity and integration of the funding streams.
Arrangements to determine the Membership of the single PMC are currently underway so that the Committee can be established in late 2013 in order to approve the project selection criteria at the earliest opportunity. This will enable the decisions to be made on the approval of the first EU funded projects from early 2014.
The new PMC will reflect the principles of partnership, with Members drawn from across the private, public and third sectors (including economic and social partners, national, regional and local authorities; and representatives of civil society including environmental and equality bodies). We will ensure that the business and enterprise sector are strongly represented. Further details on our proposals and how interested parties can apply for Membership will be published over the coming weeks.