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12.05.06
EC Commissioner visits to see how Cornwall is building a brighter future

The European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Danuta Hübner, is visiting Cornwall on 22 May to see for herself how Cornwall has already used EC Structural Funding, and to hear how Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly intends to use the next round of post-Objective One investment.

Commissioner Hübner, from Poland, is keen to visit the Eden Project and the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) campus at Tremough, so Cornwall County Council has arranged an afternoon and evening programme which will give her time to see both sites, provide time for a round table discussion with economic development agencies, and attend a dinner reception at St Austell's Carlyon Bay Hotel.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly's current Objective One programme, which earmarked £350 million of EC funding for projects, is drawing to a close at the end of this year. But Cornwall has already heard that it will have access to further investment through the Convergence Programme to continue progress towards economic regeneration.

The purpose of the Convergence programme will be to invest in skills and job creation, developing a more knowledge-based economy, increasing business productivity and innovation, and improving infrastructure. However, even though the EU has already agreed funding for Cornwall and Scilly we are still awaiting details of the programme and its management arrangements. It is hoped Commissioner Hübner's visit can begin to shed some light on this.

Andrew Mitchell, Cornwall County Council's Economy Portfolio Holder, will be among the hosts for the visit. He says: "Across the EU it is widely recognised that Cornwall has made good use of its Objective One status, and begun a process which is delivering measurable and sustainable economic growth. I am sure Commissioner Hübner will find ample evidence that we remain a credible target for EU assistance, and a showcase for how to get a regeneration blueprint up and working. Once we have the detail of Convergence funding arrangements we can begin work on an exciting forward programme."

Commissioner Hübner will be talking to local economy experts, politicians and development agencies about how Convergence funding will be used to underpin economic growth. She has taken a particular interest in the opportunities offered by digital and broadband technologies across Europe, and has noted Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly's successful actnow broadband roll-out.

Danuta Hübner has been a Commissioner in two successive administrations during the largest expansion of the European Union in its 48 year history. The Treaty of Rome bound six founder member states together as a 'Common Market' in 1958, but in 2004 growth accelerated from 15 to 25 member states when the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joined. The expansion is still continuing with Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia joining shortly and membership negotiations now underway with Turkey.

Statistically measured as one of Europe's poorest regions (having prosperity at 75% or less of the EU average) Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been in receipt of the highest level of European Structural Funding – Objective One – since 2001. The most recent evaluation of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly's prosperity (up to 2002) showed that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is still struggling with only 70% of the EU average Gross Value Added, although there was evidence even in these early years that the Objective One programme was starting to reverse the trend.

Priorities for the Convergence Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will be informed by the revised economic strategy for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly entitled Strategy & Action. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly's priorities must complement those at regional, national and European level.

A Europe-wide policy, the Lisbon Strategy, is a key driver of the Convergence Programme. It aims to generate faster economic growth and more and better jobs by increasing competitiveness, innovation and developing knowledge-based economies. In showcasing CUC and Eden, Cornwall hopes to impress Commissioner Hübner that it is embracing the Lisbon priorities, and already generating better jobs and education prospects from previous EU investment.

Later this summer Cornwall will have a visit from one of Danuta Hübner's 24 colleague EC Commissioners - Andries Pielbags, Latvian Commissioner for Energy is coming on 14 July in a visit arranged by SW MEP Graham Watson. Reijo Kemppinen, Head of the European Commission Representation in the UK, is also visiting Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly on 15 June.

For further information please contact Mark Nicholson of Cornwall County Council on 01872 274098 or email mnicholson@cornwall.gov.uk.

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Editor's notes:

On Monday 22 May the Commissioner will visit the CUC campus at Pernryn between 1.15 and 3.30 pm. After a buffet lunch with invited guests she will take part in a ceremony marking the start of the second phase of building at the CUC site. Then Commissioner Hübner will travel to the Eden Project, arriving at 4.35 pm. She will tour the biomes and the new Core education facility, departing at 6.00 pm. A private dinner reception at the Carlyon Bay Hotel is planned that evening, and Commissioner Hübner continues her SW visit in Plymouth on Tuesday 23 May to see the Royal William Yard and the Peninsula Medical School, also taking part in the launch of the SW of England Regional Economic Strategy at Plymouth's Hilton Hotel.

PHOTO AND INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY

EC Commissioner Danuta Hübner will take part in a ceremony to mark Phase 2 of work on the CUC campus at 14.15 on Monday 22 May 2006.

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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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