Seven MEPs from the Parliament's Committee on Regional Development (REGI) are visiting projects that have received funding grants from the European Commission. The delegation aims to see how successfully EU funds have been invested locally in Hampshire, and to learn from local experience how the funding process can be made easier and fairer.
Before meeting with local organisations at the Portsmouth Guildhall, the delegation visited the Radian Project in Petersfield, Plato GB in Alton and Marine South East in Southampton.
Hampshire's local MEP, Catherine Bearder, is hosting the delegation. Catherine commented:
"I persuaded the delegation to visit Hampshire instead of other areas of Europe because I believe the way we invest EU funds gives us a lot to shout about. European money is used to redevelop our poorer urban areas, and across the county we are investing in innovative projects to make our region more competitive and more environmentally sustainable."
"Through the work of the Radian project in Petersfield, EU funds are being turned into practical solutions for tackling climate change. Thanks to their model of low carbon social housing, we are seeing how European money can help local people as well as make Europe more sustainable. These are the common objectives of EU countries."
"Here at the Lord Mayor's Parlour in Portsmouth we've had a really useful discussion about how we can improve the EU funding process so money can get from Brussels to local communities as quickly, and with as little bureaucracy as possible."
"Our delegation has a lot of information to take back to Brussels, and I hope the organisations we have met will see how we can use our membership of the EU to really benefit local people."
"When public spending in the UK is being cut left, right and centre, our communities can turn to Brussels to get the money they need."
EU Structural Funds
The EU structural Funds consist of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). They aim to increase regional competitiveness and employment by encouraging entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability and improving work force employability.
During the current funding programme (2007-13) the ERDF has invested £22m in local organisations in South East England and the ESF has invested £10m. For a list of current projects in South East England funded by the ERDF please click here to visit SEEDA's website
The Radian Project - Petersfield
Radian is a housing and support provider based in Hampshire. It plans to develop a model for low carbon retrofit of social housing that will help to transform businesses and reduce carbon emissions from existing housing stock. It manages more than 17,000 homes in the South of England and supports more than 300 people in the care sector.
Radian has received a funding grant of £421,000 from the European Regional Development Fund.
Plato GB - Alton
Plato GB is an organisation that encourages businesses to improve their sustainability.
The Plato: Sustain project has received a grant of £275,000 from the European Regional Development Fund. The project aims to stimulate behavioral change amongst 130 SME CEOs /senior managers, encouraging them to implement sustainable business and efficient resource practices through the use of sustainable design and innovation. This will lead to improved business performance plus a reduction in the region's ecological footprint.
Marine South East - Southampton
Marine South East is a business-led consortium developed to address the critical issues affecting marine businesses and support the economic development of the marine sector in the South East. It received £242,796 from the European Regional Development Fund for a number of projects. The delegation heard about the 3D CAD/CAM project, which successfully encouraged marine companies to use advanced technology and automated production techniques. It also heard about the ongoing SMARTA project, which provides support for companies that want to improve their profitability and sustainability by increasing their resource efficiency.
Discussion at the Lord Mayor's Parlour - Portsmouth
The delegation has heard from local organisations and small businesses about their experiences of applying for funding from Europe. The meeting was attended by University of Southampton, Oxford Innovation, Solent Employment & Skills Board, Wheatsheaf Trust and representatives from local government. The discussion is being followed by a dinner hosted by PUSH (the PArtnership for Urban South Hampshire).
Members of the Delegation:
Mrs Constanza Angela Krehl MEP (Germany) - Chair of the delegation
Mr Sean Kelly MEP (Ireland)
Mr Joachim Zeller MEP (Germany)
Mrs Karin Kadenback MEP (Germany)
Mr Oldrich Vlasak MEP (Czech Republic)
Ms Vilja Savisaar-Toomast MEP (Estonia)
Mrs Catherine Bearder MEP (UK)