Budget bonus for Wales

December 20, 2005 ,

DESPITE some tabloid headlines the European Budget deal negotiated by the Prime Minister this week is good news for Britain, but particularly for Wales.

As usual it was portrayed a san argument with the French in some papers, when in fact it was about adjusting to the new European Union of 25 countries.

The European budget does two major things.
It finances the Common Agricultural Policy, which subsidises farmers, and it distributes funds to the less well off regions of Europe.

Because Britain does not have lots of small farmers who benefit from the CAP, we have historically had to pay a hefty bill.
In recognition of this we got a “rebate”, which today’s banks would call a “cash back” offer.

With ten new countries joining, Britain would have got more “cash back” even from the poorest countries.
This would be crazy particularly as we want these countries to prosper so they will buy our goods and services.

The budget deal stops this from happening; it makes the other richer nations help the poorer ones, and keeps the “cash back” we get from the better off countries.

In addition, because the deal was done before new statistics come out, which show that Wales is now better off, we will still get European Objective One funding for West Wales and the Valleys.

If the Prime Minister had failed to get the deal, it would have cost Wales hundreds of millions of pounds.

Furthermore, there is a commitment to review spending on the CAP which is very unfair on farmers in poorer parts of the World.

Reform of the CAP is vital if we are serious about making poverty history.

Striking the budget deal was not easy, but the consequences of failure would have been serious for Wales and the wider World.