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Is it time teacher's pet Wales had a spell on the naughty step?

WITH new regulations on how the European Union gives funding to its poorest region, I spent much of the last week in Brussels, where people queued up to say how brilliantly Wales used its share.

Wales was a poster boy in its management of European cash, Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner responsible for the regions implied. Much the same was said all over the place.

Which does pose the question - if Wales is so brilliant in spending the money it receives, why does West Wales and the Valleys remain one of the poorest regions in Europe, almost certainly qualifying it for another pile of cash after 2014? The truth is, the Welsh Government is feted in Brussels because it does everything by the book. When it comes to spending the money, every t is crossed and every i is dotted.

And a lot of worthy projects are brought to fruition - but not those which create the jobs which drive economic growth.

Other regions are less strict when it comes to spending it.

Strictly, big infrastructure projects - building roads and bridges - is not allowed because it's seen as state aid.

But many countries, particularly in southern Europe, discover enough loopholes to go ahead and build them anyway.

Perhaps the next time around the Welsh Government might need to start behaving less like teacher's pet when it comes to the rule book. After all, there's only so many skate parks one region needs.
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Title Annotation:News; Opinion, Columns
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 16, 2011
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