European Convergence Funding


It would seem that all is not well with European funding in Wales.

As the Western Mail reports here and here, there are real issues emerging not only with the old Objective 1 programme that ran from 2000-2006, but also with the new Convergence fund programme.

Ministers and their spinmeisters will, as usual, dismiss this but it must be remembered that it was the whole subject of Objective 1 which brought down Alun Michael.

If the Assembly, at a time of economic crisis, is squandering opportunities to give Wales a real competitive advantage, then there should be a full investigation by the appropriate Assembly committee and censure for the relevant politicians and civil servants.

Whatever people say about the Western Mail, this type of story does show the paper's reporters at their best and shows the need for proper accountability within our public services.

There have been numerous warning signs about the increased bureaucracy and micromanagement of the latest round of European funds and yet little has been done to address this.

Ironically, I have also heard that WAG staff are frustrated that even their efforts at getting projects out are being blocked by red tape and nit-picking by their own colleagues in WEFO (the body managing the scheme).

If that is the case, then God help the private sector and other bodies applying for funding. Indeed, it seems that it is not unusual for projects to be taking twelve months from submission to approval.

More on this soon.

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