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Letter: EU deal.

Byline: Arlene McCarthy

TONY BLAIR'S EU deal guarantees another pounds 600m investment in Merseyside until 2013.

I was surprised that the Liverpool Daily Post chose to portray Merseyside's success, in securing another round of EU funding, as a failure. I believe that your readers deserve to know the real facts surrounding the EU budget.

Ten days ago, with the budget talks in crisis, Merseyside was not sure if it would receive any funding at all. Indeed, one proposal on the table was that only new member states should be eligible to receive funding.

Along with South Yorkshire, Merseyside no longer officially qualifies for Objective 1 funding and cannot lay claim to the lion's share of EU funds.

Our small increase in prosperity has not disqualified us from accessing EU funding.

We have successfully campaigned, alongside South Yorkshire, for a special category for regions, still "relatively poor" to allow us to gain a reasonable share of new funds, as a so called "phasing in region".

Objective 1 has had a positive impact on the Merseyside economy and we cannot afford to loose the momentum gained.

In addition to the pounds 860m we received from 2000 - 2006, we will have an additional pounds 300m, together with private sector and matched funding, this will deliver pounds 600m of EU-backed investment in the Merseyside economy. Overall, since 2000, Merseyside will have received pounds 2.6bn in EU backed funds.

I am disappointed that the Liverpool Daily Post, unlike the Yorkshire Post, is unable to welcome the continued investment in Merseyside.

We are not a failure, our economy is growing, and the EU cash allocation reflects our new-found status.

We should celebrate, not talk down our economic regeneration success.

Work must now begin, in earnest, to ensure that we spend the pounds 860m we have received for the current period and maximise the new EU investment up until 2013.

Beyond that, our aspirations must be to ensure that both the City of Liverpool and Merseyside is such an economic success story, that we no longer need to depend on EU funding.

Arlene McCarthy, Member of the European Parliament
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 28, 2005
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