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30.01.08
Convergence Programmes launch marks start of £445 million investment in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

January 30th marked the start of the two Convergence Programmes totalling almost £445 million of European investment for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The ambitions for these economic investment programmes (European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund) are to build on the Objective One Programme success in regenerating the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The Programmes' official launch was timed to coincide with the first meeting of the Joint ERDF/ESF Programme Monitoring Committee which was due to formally agree investment procedures for the European Regional Development Fund.

The event was also attended by Brussels-based Jonathan Denness, Deputy Head of Unit for the UK at the European Commission's DG Regional Policy.

Of the two programmes the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Convergence Programme will be worth about £311 million – before any of the required match funding (which can come from a mix of local, regional and national public organisations). The managing agent for this Programme will be the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA).

Phil McVey, Director of European Programmes for the South West RDA, said: "The South West RDA is proud to be working with Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly on this ambitious new European programme of investment.

"We are looking forward to building on the legacy of Objective One and making a further step-change in the economic prospects of the area over the next seven years."

Andrew Mitchell, Cornwall County Council Economy Portfolio Holder, said: "The challenge is clear – Convergence is likely to be the last substantive European investment in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and therefore it must be targeted and focussed to make sure we make those investments that will make the long term, transformational difference to our economy."

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership, added: "Convergence will be one of the most ambitious and challenging investment opportunities for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. We must work together to keep our eyes on the long term ambitions of a stronger, more diverse economy with nationally and internationally successful businesses."

Following the beginning of the ERDF and ESF Convergence Programmes the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and South West Competitiveness programmes are due to be launched in Exeter on February 4th. The RDPE contains £55 million ring fenced for the Convergence area of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

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Editor's notes:

For further information contact:

  • Clare Morgan, Media Relations Manager
    Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
    Tel: 07973 813647
    cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

Or see:

www.southwestrda.org.uk/what-we-do/policy/european-prog/convergence.shtm

www.objectiveone.com/O1htm/01-convergence/convergence.htm

  • Convergence helpline telephone: 0800 028 0120
  • In Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly the Convergence Programmes are made up of European Regional Development Fund (£311 million) and European Social Fund (£133 million). Convergence Programmes will run until 2013 and follow the successful Objective One Programme and prior to that Objective 5b.
  • The investment is intended to boost the region's economy by providing focussed support for business creating better quality, higher paid jobs. This support includes training and access to higher education, strengthening links between academia and business, improved airport and IT infrastructure, additional high quality workspace and specialist support to boost business productivity.
  • The European Regional Development Fund Operational Programme, which is this region's contract with the European Commission, was signed off by Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, in December 2007. It contains four key areas of investment. These are: Innovation, Research and Development; Enterprise and Investment; Transformational Infrastructure (digital, transport and knowledge) and Unlocking the Economic Potential of Place.
  • Potential areas of investment already agreed by partners include the Combined Universities in Cornwall, enhancing the high speed broadband access that was delivered across the region during Objective One and Newquay Cornwall Airport.
  • The European Social Fund Convergence Programme Managing Authority is the Department for Work and Pensions, supported by Government Office South West.
  • The ESF Operational Programme will be targeted at tackling barriers to work, improving workforce skills and research and graduate activity. It will be delivered through co financing via the Learning and Skills Council and Jobcentre Plus.
  • The Convergence Programmes will need to clearly show how they are contributing to the Lisbon Agenda – this will mean a significant increase in emphasis on competitiveness, innovation and a more knowledge-based economy. It is proposed that about 80% of the Convergence Programmes should meet the objectives of the Lisbon Agenda – established at a conference in Lisbon, where the EU set itself the goal of becoming the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, closing the European Union's gap with America and Japan.
  • The Joint Monitoring Committee for the ERDF and ESF Programmes in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which is set up in accordance with the European Regulations, is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the two programmes and ensuring that there is proper integration between them and making recommendations for improving performance where appropriate.
  • Unlike Objective One, investments will be commissioned rather than projects bidding into the Programmes.
  • Unlike Objective One the agricultural and fisheries funds will come from a national pot.

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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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