Britain to lose EU aid to regions

SOME of the poorest regions in the United Kingdom reacted with dismay yesterday at the prospect of losing hundreds of millions in European Union funding as Brussels announced a radical shake up of its aid programme.

London's protests about the scale of poverty in the United Kingdom were brushed aside yesterday as the European Commission unveiled proposals which would see British regions from Scotland to Cornwall deprived of massive shares of aid. Overall, the country could lose almost 80 per cent of the sum it gets at present.

Britain was also warned by commission president, Jacques Santer, that its budget rebate negotiated by Baroness Thatcher in 1994 would have to be reviewed in the autumn when the European Union's next six-year spending plans come up for renegotiation.

The commission says that reform of the system under which pounds 23bn is given to the regions was inevitable with the EU's decision to admit up to 10 poorer countries from Eastern Europe, and Cyprus.

Detailed changes announced by EU regional policy commissioner, Monika Wulf Mathies, will see Northern Ireland and the Scottish Highlands and Islands disqualified from the priority aid bracket they currently enjoy after 1999. Because of improvements in living standards, they no longer pass the test that income per head is below 75 per cent of the EU average.

Merseyside will retain its claim for top rates of funding and for the first time South Yorkshire, which has sunk to levels of poverty on a par with eastern Germany, will see its share of aid doubled. But 13 regions with so-called Objective 2 status - areas of industrial decline - will see their funding slashed because unemployment will be the main yardstick of poverty and jobless rates in most UK regions have fallen.

Commissioners overruled demands from the British government to have gross domestic product per capita also included as one of the criteria. Low- paid jobs mean that income per head in many British regions is well below the EU average. A last-minute attempt by commission member Neil Kinnock to blunt the worst effect of the cuts provoked angry debate among his colleagues. In the end, Mr Kinnock limited the damage slightly by ensuring that the fall in the percentage of Britain's population covered by EU aid would be no greater than one-third, but he failed to secure the fall of just one-quarter that he wanted.

Negotiations between EU governments on the share-out of a total package worth pounds 126bn will now begin and could take up to a year with every member state fighting for a better deal. The size of the aid cake is down 12 per cent on what it was in 1993 when negotiations last took place.

For the years of 1994 to 1999, Britain's share came to pounds 9.7bn, pounds 6.5bn of which went to regions in England, pounds 1.3bn to Scotland, pounds 636m to Wales and pounds 1.1m to Northern Ireland. But the British government points out that, despite being the fifth largest contributor to the EU budget, it is 11th in the league table when it comes to handouts.

Suggested Topics
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm that there was a 'minor disturbance'

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teacher Cornwall

£21500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: ***KS1 & KS2 Teachers ...

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album