Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

North May Miss out on EU Cash

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

North May Miss out on EU Cash

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Young

Fears that deprived parts of the North East could lose out on millions of pounds in aid after 2006 are causing concern in the run-up to the European elections.

The worry is that money which has helped change the face of the North East will be cut dramatically as funds are switched to those poorer countries that have just joined the European Union.

A joint task force has been set up including officials of the Government Office for the North East, the regional development agency One NorthEast, the regional assembly, and local authorities, to look at the problem.

Members are also considering the impact of a cut in single regeneration and neighbourhood renewal funds on North East communities.

The region is already losing a seat in the European Parliament now that membership of the EU has increased from 15 to 25. After the election on June 10 the North East will have three MEPs instead of four.

Future funding is being looked at by the European Commission along with the governments of each member state, including the UK's.

The latest available figure, for 2002, shows the UK contributed pounds 9.5bn to the EU, but received pounds 6.9bn back.

The North East has received more than pounds 1bn in structural funds to help regenerate the region over the last 10 years.

The fear is that when the present funding comes to an end in 2006, money will be diverted to poorer countries, although new trading opportunities will open up for regions such as the North East.

In the past, money from Europe has helped the North East halt industrial decline and boost jobs and training in unemployment blackspots.

Showpiece projects which have received help include Tyne & Wear's Metro railway, the Baltic arts centre, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the Angel of the North, as well as regeneration schemes such as the revival of Newcastle's Grainger Town area and the development of the Newburn Riverside industrial park.

Newcastle City Council leaders fear the total amount of funding for the North East will fall, but the European Commission is proposing a specific funding programme targeted at towns and cities.

About pounds 7m of European cash is helping more than 30 projects in Newcastle and grants made or in the pipeline include pounds 1.2m for the Centre for the Children's Book, pounds 1.8m for Newcastle Playhouse and pounds 588,000 for Dance City. But a funding fall-off is a problem for voluntary and community groups.

22 candidates to fight for three seats in region

A total of 22 candidates will fight for three North seats on June 10.

Labour says more than half the UK's trade is with Europe and three million jobs depend on it.

Team: Stephen Hughes, Barbara O'Toole, Joanne Thompson.

CONSERVATIVES aim to put Britain first in a Europe free from red tape and bureaucracy. …

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