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Euro Aid For South Lanarkshire Could Be Lost
A proposal which could see more than £320million in European aid injected into South Lanarkshire was passed to the European Parliament for approval weeks before Britain voted to leave the EU.
But the Scottish Government says the money may not be lost as it seeks to maintain its status within Europe.
The proposal to create the South of Scotland NUTS area including South Lanarkshire Council, the three Ayrshire councils, Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway was agreed by the European Statistical System Committee earlier this year and is currently being scrutinised by the European Parliament.
Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics, NUTS is a set of geographical boundaries set and regulated by the European Union. Its core purpose is for the reporting of regional statistics to Eurostat, which are then used to inform decisions around grant funding.
The Scottish Government believes the socio-economic make up of these local authorities is largely similar and therefore should be grouped together.
But, importantly for South Lanarkshire, the new South of Scotland NUTS area would likely be considered an “under developed” region by current EU standards and would therefore be seen as a greater priority for European aid.
As the only under developed region in Scotland, the new NUTS area would have the same status as West Wales and the Valleys, which had access to around £1.3bn of grant funding for economic and social development in the 2006-2010 funding period.
South Lanarkshire Council officers have stated that based on the investment in Wales and Cornwall - another under developed area - in the 2006 to 2010 period, the South of Scotland would have received around £980m, with South Lanarkshire possibly in line to receive £323m over the life of the programme, or around £42m per annum.
While the money is likely lost after Britain voted to leave the EU, a spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “As the first minister has stated, we are intent on pursuing all options to maintain Scotland’s EU status.
“The new NUTS area has been given unanimous approval by the European Statistical System Committee and is currently being scrutinised by the European Parliament/Council. If it receives approval the NUTS area would be in place in January 2018.”
In February South Lanarkshire councillors agreed unanimously to support the Scottish Government proposal which suggests removing the local authority from its current South Western Scotland NUTS area.
At that meeting of the executive committee, a report put before councillors stated: “In terms of what the new structure may bring is both an increase in the accessibility of EU funds to support the economic and social development of South Lanarkshire – and if the South of Scotland area was to be identified as one of the poorest parts of the EU it could be anticipated that it would become an area of focus of both the Scottish and UK Governments and their agencies.”