'Money well spent' – commissioner visits
in same week as Cornwall hears it has fastest economic growth
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commissioner Hübner is the European Commissioner
for Regional Policy.
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439