Every region wins if Europe’s funding regime is reformed

From: Pawel Swidlicki, Researcher, Open Europe, Tufton Street, London.

TIMOTHY Kirkhope MEP has clearly misunderstood our report and proposals for reforming EU regional funding (Yorkshire Post February 2).

Firstly, ending the circular flow of money between richer member states would no longer see an area like South Yorkshire, for example, paying in £2.79 into EU funds for every £1 it gets back.

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Instead, a domestically-run regional programme could give South Yorkshire the same amount it currently receives from the EU as well as an additional £288m over seven years if the cash saved from rationalising the EU budget.

It would also halt the irrational system whereby taxpayers in Yorkshire pay for projects in wealthy places like Stockholm, Luxembourg and Munich.

Secondly, contrary to what Mr Kirkhope seems to believe, our proposal would leave all less advantaged EU member states better off: for example, Bulgaria and Romania, the bloc’s poorest countries, would save more than £2bn between them.

So if anything, our model would massively facilitate the expansion of the EU’s single market and “the development of the weaker economies in the EU” by giving these countries more cash, and tailoring the funds to better suit their specific economic circumstances.

As has been widely acknowledged, the sheer size and complexity of the EU’s structural funds makes them very difficult to manage. Their, at times, contradictory objectives, and the absence of a link between funding and results, makes them unfocussed. This manifests itself in the difficulties Yorkshire may have in unlocking match-funding and coordinating funding streams.

Bringing these funds home to Yorkshire would massively benefit the regions’ businesses and taxpayers. Unsurprisingly therefore, this proposal has gained significant cross-party support.

From: Paul Emsley, Hellifield, North Yorkshire.

THE main problem in the whole of the European Union is that our so-called democracy is not democracy at all. It is bureaucracy for the sake of itself. JM Barroso has less of a mandate than the despot in Bahrain.

Whether we look at the Common Agricultural Policy, the European Court of Human Rights, or the euro, all of these EU “initiatives” are the results of bureaucrats wanting to give themselves a job for life.

The EU needs to take a long, hard look at what Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg achieve. It needs to become ‘fit for purpose’ as a model for Europe and be cost-effective, within a world of international communications and trade.

From: Nick Martinek, Briarlyn Road, Huddersfield.

I HAVE a suggestion to make that will enable David Cameron to keep his promise to repatriate powers from the EU. It will reverse an ongoing maritime ecological disaster merely by exercising our own Parliament’s sovereignty whilst complying with United Nations Conventions.

What the UK should do is unilaterally abolish our membership of the EU’s failed Common Fisheries Policy, and re-establish our own national 200 mile offshore fishing rights. Oh, wait. This was the policy of the Conservative Party, until our europhile Prime Minister bowed down to the EU. Every voter should be aware that the Conservative (and Labour, and Lib Dem) promises to get a better deal from the EU are false.

Unless we at least threaten to leave, and mean it, the EU will not deviate and we will get nothing.

From TW Jefferson, Station Road, Hensall, Goole

IN recent weeks, some of your correspondents have praised Germany’s success, without acknowledging that much of it has been achieved at the expense of other countries.

The Germans have many admirable qualities but their political leadership of the EU is not one of them. They have been, and remain, “behind the curve” in resolving the euro crisis and were asleep at the wheel.