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'Money well spent' – commissioner visits in same week as Cornwall hears it has fastest economic growth in Europe

As a speech by EU Commissioner Danuta Hübner about her visit last week to Cornwall was placed on the internet, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly received news that the local economy is growing at a faster rate than any other region across Europe, and dramatically better than any other EU assisted region in the UK.

Commissioner Hübner visited the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) campus at Tremough and the Eden Project last Monday and then told a Plymouth meeting on Tuesday, "These projects are tremendous examples of what can be achieved with the will, the ideas and the financial assistance. If projects like these are able to encourage enterprise, create jobs, attract investment and knowledge and sustain our environment then I would say that it is money well spent and all those who contribute to make them happen deserve our appreciation. It is an added bonus for me as Commissioner for Regional Policy to see how the EU can contribute in a practical way to improving people's prospects and enabling them to realise their dreams."

Then, as if to emphasise the catalytic effect of EU investment, the latest figures were released by the EU's statistical office Eurostat showing that not only is Cornwall and Isles of Scilly the only EU region to have raised its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by more than 8% since 1999, but it has also taken a leap out of the category which originally qualified it as an Objective One assisted area.

In these, the most recently audited and released figures, Cornwall and Scilly's GDP - the measure of wealth creation in the workplace – has now crept above the critical '75% of the EU average' threshold, showing as 75.8% in 2003.

County Council Portfolio Holder for the Economy, Andrew Mitchell says: "Don't worry, this doesn't mean we no longer qualify for the next round of convergence funding to follow on from the Objective One programme. That circa £380 million is already set aside, earmarked for Cornwall and Scilly's exclusive use until 2013. But what these most recent statistics show is that structural funding, coupled with an imaginative programme and sheer willingness to change things for the better, is a formula that works. And it appears to be working better here in Cornwall than anywhere else in the UK or across Europe."

Andrew was one of the hosts for the Cornish leg of Commissioner Hübner's visit, which included a private meeting on aspects of Cornwall's economic regeneration, appropriately sited at Cornwall's impressive emerging University campus.

Danuta Hübner said in her speech the next day: "The Combined Universities in Cornwall project is vitally important for producing the seeds of sustainable success. It is not a quick-fix solution but an investment in your collective future. It responds to the demand for a major higher educational institution that will not only stem the 'brain drain' but will even attract talent and knowledge into the region from outside, becoming an economic hub that will generate practical and commercial spin-offs as it grows and develops."

The new figures from Eurostat confirm Cornwall and Scilly as one of the fastest growing economies in the UK in 2003.

Cornwall will continue raising its European profile later this summer with a visit from one of Danuta Hübner's 24 colleague EC Commissioners, Andries Pielbags, Latvian Commissioner for Energy who is coming on 14 July in a visit arranged by South West MEP Graham Watson. Reijo Kemppinen, Head of the European Commission Representation in the UK, is also visiting on 15 June.

For further information please contact Mark Nicholson, Press and PR Officer for Cornwall County Council on 01872 274098 or email:

Commissioner Hübner is the European Commissioner for Regional Policy.


Editor's notes:



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

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