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28.02.06
Alun Michael unveils a new plan for spending structural funds in the UK

A wide-ranging consultation to identify the top UK priorities for EU Structural Funds spending across the UK from 2007 to 2013 was launched today by Alun Michael, Minister of State for Industry and the Regions.

Structural Funds are used to promote regional development and employment. The new priorities are expected to include a stronger focus on activities to support enterprise, innovation, sustainable communities and sustainable development as well as boosting skills and employment.

The UK is expected to receive approximately 9.4 billion euros in Structural Funds between 2007 and 2013. This includes 2.6 billion euros for the poorest areas of the UK (Cornwall, West Wales and the Valleys and the Highlands and Islands) and 6.2 billion euros for other areas (including special allowances for South Yorkshire and Merseyside). There is also 0.6 billion euros for cross-border and trans-national projects.

The consultation asks for comments on:

A draft 'National Strategic Reference Framework' for future Structural Funds Programmes in the UK to establish the broad priorities for Structural Funds spending across the UK for the period 2007-2013;
the Government's proposals for distributing the UK's Structural Funds allocations under the new Competitiveness Objective;
and future arrangements for delivery of the Funds.

The new National Strategic Reference Framework will provide an overview of the economic strengths and weaknesses of the UK's nations and regions and will be used to identify and set out the main priorities for future Structural Funds Programmes.

Alun Michael said: "The Government is committed to creating a modern and competitive economy. We need to ensure that all parts of the country benefit from our increased economic prosperity and employment. That's why the consultation I'm announcing today is so important. We must ensure that the European funding that we have been allocated contributes effectively to our regional policy objectives. Our economic success depends not just on the areas where wealth creation is already happening, but also on sustainable regeneration in areas where local economies are not performing as well. That is why it is vital to establish the right framework for future Structural Funds spending from 2007 to 2013."

The consultation ends on 22 May 2006.

For further information please contact 020 7215 5978 or visit www.dti.gov.uk.

This consultation concerns the European Funding Programme that will follow on from Objective One and will run from 2007 to 2013.

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Editor's notes:

1. The consultation document and draft National Framework are available on the DTI website at: www.dti.gov.uk/europe/nsrf.html
2. The draft Community Strategic Guidelines are available on the European Commission website: www.europa.eu.int/comm/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/2007/osc/index_en.htm
3. Convergence funding will replace Objective One funding and Competitiveness and Employment funding will replace Objectives Two and Three funding.
4. The EU Member States are currently negotiating on four new Structural Funds Regulations. These regulations will establish the detailed rules for delivering the Structural Funds in the 2007-2013 budgetary period and require a more strategic approach to future Structural Funds spending. Community Strategic Guidelines will determine the priorities for the Funds at the European level and a series of National Strategic Reference Frameworks will establish the priorities within each Member State.
5. The Government is consulting separately on the new Assisted Areas Map for the UK, which will establish the areas eligible for investment aid in the 2007-2013 budgetary cycle. This will have implications for how and where public funds, including the Structural Funds, can be used to support investment within the UK. At the same time, DEFRA is currently consulting stakeholders on the proposed priorities for the next Rural Development Programme for England in the 2007-2013 Financial Perspective. The DTI is working with DEFRA to ensure consistency in the deployment of these funding streams.
6. The consultation document on the new Assisted Areas Map for the UK is available on the DTI website: www.dti.gov.uk/consultations/consultation-1593.html and the consultation document on the future Rural Development Programme for England is available on the DEFRA website: www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/current.htm

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

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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