The Wales Audit Office's newly published report into European Structural Funds highlights the huge importance of Wales remaining in the EU, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have argued today (24th).
The report makes clear that by the end of 2013, the value of EU funding under the 2007-2013 structural funds programmes is equivalent to around £1.9 billion. With other match funding from UK sources, the total value of the programmes over the whole period has been worth around £3.2 billion.
The report found that programmes established through European structural funds have progressed relatively well overall despite certain difficulties. It also found that management arrangements are effective and have improved since the previous programming round.
Alec Dauncey, Welsh Liberal Democrat European candidate commented:
"This shows how Wales continues to benefit from the UK's membership of the European Union. Wales receives billions of pounds of investment to contribute to building a stronger economy and a fairer society.
"This investment is vital for Wales' economy and creating more jobs. Yet UKIP and the Tories are willing to threaten these jobs with their obsession with taking us out of the EU. Labour can't be trusted to spend this money wisely and remain too timid to stand up to the Eurosceptics, while Plaid's position on Europe is confused by their desire for Welsh independence. The Liberal Democrats are the only party of 'in'.
"We all know of worthwhile local projects which have been delivered with this support from Europe. It's a huge mistake just to moan about the EU, here in Wales we need to get stuck in and use this money to help support our economy."
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Europe said:
"We all know how the Welsh Labour Government has previously wasted some of these funds. However, it is encouraging that they appear to be being used better than before. This will mean that more jobs will be created thanks to this vital EU aid.
"These programmes will ultimately be judged by their impact on the lives of the people of Wales. Lessons must be learnt from previous mistakes and it is time to focus on delivering tangible outcomes for our most deprived communities.
"The Welsh Liberal Democrats recognise that more than one in ten jobs in Wales are reliant on trade within the EU. We will fight to defend these jobs and ensure that Wales has a stronger economy and a fairer society."