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17.12.07
Cornwall County Council Welcomes Convergence Programme Sign Off

Andrew Mitchell, Cornwall County Council's economy portfolio holder, has welcomed the formal approval of the ERDF Convergence Operational Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by the European Commission.

Andrew Mitchell said: "In many ways the formal sign off of the Operational Programme is the successful culmination of a lot of work in developing the evidence base and vision for the Convergence Programme – but the reality is the hard work starts now!

 "It is very likely that this Convergence Programme is the last substantive European investment and therefore it must be targeted and focussed to ensure that it plays its role in transforming the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly."

This Operational Programme (OP) acts as this region's contract with the EC for how it will invest more than £311 million (not including match funding) of European Structural Funding under the Convergence European Regional Development Fund Programme, between now and 2013.

This sign off – by Danuta Hübner the European Commissioner for Regional policy, 14 December 2007 – completes the first of three steps before the Programme goes live. It is estimated this will happen early in 2008. The other two steps are that the UK Parliament has to pass a statutory instrument enabling the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) to act as the managing body for ERDF Convergence. Finally the Programme Monitoring Committee, chaired by Government Office for the South West, must meet to agree the processes and procedures for the Programme.

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: "Following the success of the Objective One Programme, our ambition is to use this next phase of European Structural Funds to create new and innovative economic growth opportunities. Having said that, the ERDF Convergence Programme will be very different in structure and process to Objective One and will be used to target fewer key strategic investments within the Cornish economy.

 "A number of these investments may be significantly larger than we've seen before and carry a proportionate higher level of risk. The Operational Programme sets out this economic region's blueprint for building a strong, sustainable economy and represents months of consultation and hard work in partnership with many organisations, businesses and individuals across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. There will be one of the most ambitious and challenging investment opportunities for our economy and we must work together to keep our eye on the long term ambitions."

Phil McVey, Director of European Programmes for the South West RDA, added: "The welcome approval of the ERDF Convergence Programme means that partners in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly can now take forward the ambitious investment plans set out in the Operational Programme. The approval marks the end of two years' hard work by the Partnership, and the European Commission have given praise to partners for the way that people have worked together to agree the plans in the programme.

 "The Programme is recognised in Europe as a model for using European funding for the benefit of local and regional economies, and also supporting the European Union's aim of creating globally competitive regions that offer high paid, sustainable jobs.

 "Now of course, we have to work together to turn the plans into reality. The RDA, as Intermediate Body for the ERDF programme is creating a team who will be based in Cornwall, working on behalf of partners in Cornwall and Scilly to bring forward investments and ensure that they match the aspirations in the Operational Programme. The team will be led by DianaMompoloki as Head of Convergence in the RDA."

The new Programme aims to make the economy stronger and more sustainable by supporting and adding more innovative and knowledge-based activity. Today's most technologically advanced economies are truly knowledge-based, relying more and more on the use of ideas and commercialisation of new knowledge and know-how. Increasing business competitiveness and raising innovation levels will be important in making this happen and will support the Europe-wide Lisbon Agenda designed at narrowing the productivity gap between the USA and Japan.

Thelma Sorensen, Chair of the Cornwall Business Partnership, in welcoming the sign off of the ERDF Convergence Operational Programme added: "Productive, more successful businesses, able to pay better wages and compete for the opportunities in an increasingly global economy are vital for the economic success of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The ambition of the ERDF Convergence Programme is to make that happen – we must all ensure that this is realised and the private sector will play a key role in realising this."

For further information please contact:

Clare Morgan, Media Relations Manager, Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, 07973 813647.

Carole Theobald, Cornwall County Council head of communications, 01872 324132.

Phil McVey, Director of European Programmes, 01872 243778.

Diana Mompoloki, Head of Convergence, 01872 243750.

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Editor's notes:

The Signed off ERDF Convergence Operational Programme will be available online shortly. For information about Convergence see www.objectiveone.com/O1htm/01-convergence/convergence.htm

Convergence, like Objective One, is intended to be used to create a strong and sustainable economy. Unlike Objective One most of the Convergence ERDF Programme will be commissioned, meaning that there will be limited opportunities for bidding into the Programme.

The Programme Monitoring Committee consists of representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

The next steps, once the Programme Monitoring Committee has met formally, will be for the RDA, as Intermediate Body, to work with partners to deliver the investments within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This work will be coordinated by Diana Mompoloki, Head of Convergence, and her team in Cornwall.

As well as the ERDF Convergence Programme, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will also benefit from an ESF Convergence (European Social Fund) Programme and from EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development) and EFF (European Fisheries Fund). The agricultural and fisheries funds will come from a national pot but with money ring fenced for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
The Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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