East Midlands MEP Andrew Lewer MBE has welcomed the Government’s new Industrial Strategy as a great opportunity to make better use of billions of pounds currently paid into EU structural funds.
Responding to the green paper launch, Andrew said the Strategy would allow greater control of how the UK’s local economies were regenerated post-Brexit.
The multi-billion Euro funds – aimed at boosting economic growth, development and cooperation between member states – account for around a third of EU spending.
“Next to France and Germany, the UK is the third largest net contributor to these funds,” says Andrew who is the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group spokesman on Regional Development Funds.
“Although we get some money back – the EU controls how we spend it. These are decisions which should be taken locally by people who know what is needed locally such as local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).”
He went on: “Through this ambitious Industrial Strategy we have a chance to focus public investment on where it is most needed – such as new roads, helping businesses expand or creating new institutes of technology.”
From 2007 to 2013, the UK contributed £29.5 billion to EU Structural and Cohesion Funds and received £8.7 billion ( 29%) back.
“I am pleased the Government has recognised the need for “strong and accountable place-based governance” to steer the Industrial Strategy at a local level,” added Andrew.
“In making the most of Brexit we should not replace Brussels centralisation and bureaucracy with the Whitehall variety,” he said. “I believe the Government gets that.
“It is important local people – in many cases through the involvement of local authorities – should have as large a role as possible in delivering the Strategy.”