Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Government Business
Today I am pleased to announce that the European Commission has approved the European Regional Development Fund Operational Programmes 2014–2020 for West Wales and the Valleys (WW&V) and East Wales (EW).
Wales is the first region in the UK and one of the first regions in the EU and to have its ERDF programmes approved, worth £1.1 billion of EU funds. This marks a significant milestone which will help drive the EU and Welsh Government’s shared goals for sustainable economic growth and jobs.
The agreement of the programmes follow detailed negotiations over the past nine months with the European Commission, and its adoption of the UK Partnership Agreement last month (29 October), an EC regulatory requirement. Meanwhile, the ESF Operational Programmes for Wales, worth £804 million of EU funds investment, have been ‘agreed in principle’, with formal approval from the Commission expected within the next few weeks.
The ERDF programmes, worth some £960m for WW&V and £162m for EW, will help drive a total investment of around £1.8bn in Wales, and include:
- a 45% increase in funding for Research and Innovation, bringing total EU funds to £310m;
- a significant boost in funding for SME Competitiveness, including business finance, worth a total of £198m EU funds;
- £439m for Connectivity and Urban Development, which includes maintaining and protecting EU funds investment worth £252m in transport (including scope to support transformational public transport investments such as the Metro in the Cardiff Capital City Region, and other improvements including the A55 and A40); and
- a significant (120%) increase in funding for investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, with £154m of EU funds available, and a particular focus on Marine Energy in West Wales.
The final ERDF Operational Programmes will be published shortly on the WEFO website (www.wefo.wales.gov.uk). Prior to this, a table showing the agreed financial allocations for each investment priority of the ERDF programmes is attached as an Appendix to this Statement.
Today, I will be launching the ERDF programmes at an event for Welsh partners in Llanrwst, Conwy. While in North Wales, I will also be opening the EU-funded Bee and Station business centre which was has been transformed from a derelict hotel into an enterprise hub with the backing of £500,000 from the ERDF programme 2007–2013.
A Structural Funds event for Welsh partners will also be held in Cardiff on 26 November.