Letter: EU's undeserving poor

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The Independent Online
THE announcement this week by Monika Wulf Mathies, European Commissioner for Regional Policy and Cohesion, about changes in EU funding ("Britain to lose EU aid to regions", 19 March) divides the people of Europe into the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. It would appear that we in the UK fall into the second category.

The UK is the fourth poorest country in the EU and one of the largest net contributors to its funds. To date the Commission has allocated resources according to need. However, following publication of the draft regulations, it appears that richer EU regions may stand to benefit at the expense of other regions with equally important economic and social problems.

The UK is being penalised because of its lower levels of unemployment. In fact, financial assistance to support job creation should be given to the poorest regions and they are those with the lowest gross domestic product (GDP). South Yorkshire has been highlighted as one such area where declining heavy industry has had a severe impact. However, there are other areas which have equally severe problems and yet seem to be offered no help and are to remain excluded from the benefits of EU membership.

The Isle of Wight is one such area. Our GDP is 64 per cent of the EU average. This is lower than South Yorkshire, Merseyside and Cornwall. Our unemployment figure of 9.9 per cent is the highest in the south east. Wages on the island are 16 per cent below the national average.

The Government must act to ensure that we do not remain in picturesque poverty as the "undeserving poor" of Europe.

S COWLEY

Deputy Leader and Chairman

Economic Development Committee

Isle of Wight Council

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