MARCH/APRIL 2000 EDITION 1
EUROREGIONS WEB: http://euroregions.tripod.com
A regular update of European Policy as it impacts on Wales,with News updates, Brussels/Wales Links and Opinion. This site will be updated during each month. For further information contact:
RICHARD HARRIS ERA : firstname.lastname@example.org
For Links to Welsh (and UK) Devolution Sites see:
EUROREGIONS DEVOLUTION LINKS
For the E.C.'s Weekly Update of EU events (published from the London Office) see : THE WEEK IN EUROPE
For a Daily News Update direct from Brussels, see the POLIS WEBSITE
For EU Regional Policy News, see INFOREGIO EC REGIONAL AFFAIRS BRUSSELS
KEY POLICY THINK TANKS:
WALES : INSTITUTE OF WELSH AFFAIRS
EUROPE : THE EUROPEAN POLICY CENTRE - BRUSSELS
OBJECTIVE ONE PROGRAMME FOR WALES 2000-2006 -
For programme information on Objective Two, and the Urban and Interreg III Community Inititatives 2000-2006 see INFOREGIO above. For the Welsh dimension, see the Welsh Assembly link @ Economic Development Committee.
APRIL 1: EU FUNDING :
A (further) Draft Wales OB1 SPD was published by the Welsh Assembly on 27.3.2000. Some sections were still updating but the complete document is now available via the Assembly Link below, or Check Economic Development Committee at Business/Committee. The March EDCs also contain papers on programme timescale, evaluation and implementation. Note Graham Meadows (EC Regional Affairs) comments on the latter at the 29 March meeting. A summary of SPD progress is given in the April EDC minutes. The full Assembly (Plenary) will also debate the SPD on 12 April (see entry April 14). The European Commission decision on the programme is expected in June 2000. If positive, the programme should launch in July 2000. Further details will follow shortly. (The SPDs for Finland, Portugal and Burgenland (Austria) were approved by the E.C. in February and March 2000)
An ERA Draft Critique of the projections and claimed regeneration potential of the Wales Objective One Programme:
"WALES OBJECTIVE ONE : PUBLIC EXPECTATIONS vs. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC REALITY", will be available c. mid April 2000. For the full paper, contact Richard Harris ERA as below.
For an Illuminating comparison with Ireland's scale of funding and its experience and delivery of EU Structural Funds - Now a key model for the future development of the Welsh economy, see : EU Structural Funds in Ireland This includes an update of the 2000-2006 programme and programme/sector/project information from the previous funding period.
Also extremely valuable is the recent publication by the Irish Institute for European Affairs - Dublin ; "Europe, The Irish Experience" published April 2000 (IR£15.00). This focuses on the impact of "Europe" on the economic and political structures of Ireland. The success of the past twenty years is not simply a result of EU Structural Fund finance, but follows a STRATEGIC approach to development and partnership stimulated by EU membership, and carried through by all agencies.
For an excellent and comprehensive overview of the future of Wales in Europe (although directed at Objective One), see the paper by Hywel Ceri Jones at the Centre for European Policy Website, or CHALLENGE EUROPE
APRIL 6 : REGIONAL COMPETITIVENESS - WALES
In a new report published by Cardiff University, "Regional Economic Development in Wales", Prof. Phil Cooke places Wales as the second least competitive region in the UK (after the N.East) - at 10% below the UK average. On an international scale Wales in ranked at 35th, just above Chile and below Israel. The Irish Republic (which Wales is keen to emulate in its use of OB1 funds) ranked 11th. The ratings are based on a regional/national table with the USA as the leading competitive nation. The report draws attention to the lack of knowledge based SMEs in Wales & "clustures of culture", together with the contraints on demand and existing inward investment activity. It stresses the need for Ob1 funds to directly address these issues if Wales is to have any "meaningful" future. (W.Mail 6.4.2000)
A related ESRC paper, by Dr. Robert Huggins, again at Cardiff University CAS,confirms the above but situates Wales in a UK context and establishes a new competitiveness index, again relevant to the Ob1 debate. "Parts of the UK are becoming so economically uncompetitive that the end result is widespread deprivation and misery for those people who live there". The paper "conclusively highlights the continuance of a UK North South divide"
Index of Regional Competitiveness (UK=100)
10.........Yorks & H......93.4
Both papers illustrate the scale of the transformation required in Wales (and highlight the negative effects of the substantial regional imbalance in a UK economy focused on the primacy of the South East). They introduce some needed realism into the OB1 Wales "mantra" for all seasons.
For a socio-economic context see the stark report from the Assembly, "Mapping Social Exclusion in Wales" published in March.The report pulls together a mass of data on the extent and depth of poverty in Wales. ( More than 50% of all households in Wales have an annual income of less than £10,000 ). "Shocking Reading" - Rhodri Morgan. "Is it backdated ?" - Russell Goodway. The report is (ironically) priced at £20.00 (hard copy) but after much lobbying will be on the Assembly Net at a future point. Most main libraries in Wales now hold a hard copy dedicated section of Assembly publications.
Assembly Cabinet minutes will also be on line from 26.4.2000 - A first for Wales and a first for the UK.
APRIL 10 : EU REGIONAL GDP STATISTICS
EUROSTAT has published (Feb 2000) an updated schedule for Regional GDP for the 211 NUTSII areas of the EU (inc West Wales and the Valleys). The table and other data is avalable from EUROSTAT/EUROPA or directly at EUROSTAT EU REGIONAL GDP - FEB 2000
APRIL 11 : EU ECONOMIC GROWTH FORECASTS 1999-2001
The European Commission has published growth figures for the EU as a whole and for individual Members States. The EU is expected to grow by 3.4% GDP in 2000 (faster than at any time since 1989) and by over 3.0% GDP in 2001. The UK's growth is forecast at 3.0% GDP in 2001. The figure for Ireland is 6.2%. The implication for Wales is that it must achieve a growth rate far higher than the UK average if it is to close the prosperity gap and meet the targets of the NEDS document, the Better Wales paper, and the OB1 SPD. As Graham Meadows said, " Wales has set an ambitious (OB1) programme setting a target to increase Wales' GDP above the European average as the EU average is beyond Wales' control" (EDC 29 MARCH). The irony is intentional.
EU ECONOMIC FORECASTS 1999-2001
APRIL 14 : EU FUNDING
OB1 ASSEMBLY PLENARY SESSION - 12.4.2000
The Official Record of the Assembly Plenary is now online. It is well worth reading as not all the key issues have come out in the minutes of EDC meetings.Particularly relevant are the reported comments by the E.C. on "implementation" (again) and the level of infrastructure expenditure. There also still appears to be no greater clarity as to how the OB1 programme will be launched and promoted to achieve maximum impact. As Graham Meadows E.C. pointed out at the EDC 29 March : G.M. 7.3., there is a danger that the programme will loose credibility unless effective delivery structures are in place and things start happening on the ground. There is also a danger of "financial clawback" by the Commission in 2002 if there is a delayed take up. The Plenary is a pdf file - see pages 33-54 for OB1.
ASSEMBLY PLENARY DEBATE- OB1
The working group on State Aids also published an information paper as part of the April 12 EDC agenda. See STATE AIDS
APRIL 16 : NEW WALES WEBSITE
A new website for Welsh exporters (WALESWORLDWIDE), "designed to establish Wales on the global commerce e.map", will be launched on 19 APRIL by Rhodri Morgan. The site has been established by Cardiff Chamber/County Council in partnership with BT and the Western Mail.
APRIL 19 : COMMONS WELSH AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
The initial oral evidence to the WAC enquiry into SOCIAL EXCLUSION IN WALES has been published on the Web 19.4.2000. See also, Report 17.2.2000 on EU STRUCTURAL FUNDS IN WALES Excellent background to the on-going debate. HOUSE OF COMMONS WELSH AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
APRIL 20 : EUROSCEPTICISM : EUROBAROMETER SURVEY NO 52
Anti European feeling in the UK has deepened in the past year, according to a new poll carried out by the E.C., which puts Britain at the bottom of almost every measure of support for the EU, its policies and institutions. The British came bottom in support for EU membership, joint decision making, trust in EU institutions, and the belief that the EU had "benefited" their country (29% against 31% in the previous survey. The figure for Ireland was 88%). Only Denmark and Sweden showed anything approaching similar euroscepticism. British citiizens also thought they were THE LEAST KNOWLEGEABLE AND LEAST WELL INFORMED ABOUT THE EU AND THE SINGLE CURRENCY. This is why " We are at the centre of Europe" ?
FT APRIL 20
NOTE : The UK Minister for Europe, Keith Vaz, has announced that "ambassadors" will be recruited to "sell" the EU to the UK public. The first will be Hans Friedrich von Pletz, German ambassador, who will attend events in Leeds in May. European embassies in London have also been asked to provide entertainment and food for the Foreign Office open day on "Europe Day" - 9 May. Celebrities have been invited to act as "Champions for Europe". These include Frank Bruno, David Ginola and Paolo di Canio. FT 26.4.2000. Inspired...
EUROBAROMETER REPORT NO 52 - HIGHLIGHTS AND FULL PAPER
Meanwhile, Welsh public opinion....
AN ERA SURVEY OF "EUROPE IN WALES - DEVELOPMENTS POST MAY 1999" will be published in the MAY edition of this briefing. The survey will examine the value of the Assembly's European Affairs Committee, the promotion of "Europe" by Wales' five MEPs, and the role of the European Commission in Wales.
(For example, the EAC was to be the European policy driver for the Assembly and beyond . In the 1998 WA paper "NAFW and the EU", it was proposed that the Committee meet fortnightly, act as a forum for other European "actors in Wales", and promote a wider European agenda and awareness - "encourage a pro-active European dimension to Welsh policy making and stronger Welsh participation in the range of EU initiatives and programmes". The Committee has met only THREE times in the past year and is in danger of being marginalised. There seems to be no common or coherent approach to Europe by any of the key Welsh agencies and elected/representative bodies. If they lack interest or are unable to work together, the public can hardly be blamed for its apathy and/or hostility).
APRIL 22 : THE EURO AND EU MEMBERSHIP
In a useful article in the "Independent", Christopher Johnson, UK advisor to the Association for the Monetary Union of Europe, updates the recent NIESR report on the economic aspects of Britain's EU membership and the effects of retaining the pound. "The costs of exchange rate uncertainty, volatility, and misalignment form a non tarrif barrier with Euroland probably greater than the pre EU trade barriers. The car industry is only the most visible part of a manufacuring sector which needs the pound to be about 25 per cent lower in order to operate profitably...No less than 77% of UK exports of goods and services are manufactures and the contribution of foreign firms is crucial. The NIESR argues that leaving the EU would result in the stock of FDI in the UK (£200bn) - being more than £21bn lower. There would also be a substatial impact on future GDP "with the UK sinking in a few years to being poorer than Spain" Mountain Ash = Madrid
(For Wales, the pound and manufacturing, see the latest CBI WALES survey 26.4.2000)
There is also an excellent paper available from the European Institute, South Bank University, London (Prof. Ian Begg) which examines UK employment dependence on the EU by sector and region/locality (i.e. Wales). Published Feb 2000
For a Pro European, Anti Euro position, see "The Euro and Regional Divergence in Europe" - Prof Tony Thirlwall (Univ Kent), New Europe Research Trust 2000 (www.new-europe.co.uk) /or Univ Kent Website.
APRIL 26 : EUROPEAN CITY (CITIES ?) OF CULTURE - WALES
It has been proposed that Cardiff, Swansea and Newport (Newport?), present a joint bid to be considered as a European City of Culture in the 2008 round "although it is still early days": For the BBC Wales report and background see CITY OF CULTURE -WALES 2008
APRIL 29 : EUROPE DIRECT
The European Commission's Culture and and Education Directorate (DG10), has recently enhanced its Europe Direct public information service. This provides a direct access point for EU information via web, telephone or email. For the background and links see Giancarlo Pau's (co-ordinator) article in the European Information Service Bulletin (LGIB) April 2000.
APRIL 30 : SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT EUROPEAN NEWSLETTER
The latest addition (No 4 - APRIL 2000) of the Scottish Parliament's European Committee Bulletin is now on line. An excellent way to raise the profile of the Parliament, Committee,and increase European Awareness... Wales please note. EURO BULLETIN APRIL 2000
STOP PRESS: SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT EUROPEAN COMMITTEE:
The SP European Committee has called for evidence from interested parties as part of its enquiry into the operation of the Structural Funds. Evidence by 12.5.2000. See SP EU ENQUIRY PRESS RELEASE"
THE MAY EDITION OF THIS BULLETIN WILL CARRY FEATURES ON :
# WALES, IRELAND AND EU STRUCTURAL FUNDS
# WELSH DEVOLUTION REVISITED
# EUROPE IN WALES - ONLY CONNECT ?
# THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT ENQUIRY INTO EU STRUCTURAL FUND SUPPORT - INTERIM REPORT
The May edition will also be in Word format in addition to hyper text to assist downloading. It should be on-line c. mid month.
For future Assembly Committee dates see ASSEMBLY CALENDAR
RICHARD HARRIS ERA : email@example.com
NOTE: From May 2000 ERA will be compiling a schedule of relevant EU, UK, WALES and ACADEMIC reports produced during the current month. This will be produced as a headline,context and web site link listing. To add YOUR name to the email list, contact ERA with headline ERA REPORTS.