With over 8 million people living in the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex, South East England has a higher population than 12 of the 27 EU member states.
Its cities and towns are a great mix of the old and the new: the large urban conurbations at Brighton, Southampton, and Guildford; the historical cities of Oxford, Canterbury and Hastings; and the many beautiful market towns that lie scattered between.
For farmers, residents and tourists alike, the environment is an important part of our daily lives in the South East. In total 47% of the region is protected by some form of environmental designation and farming accounts for 62% of land.
The South East has a strong and vibrant economy. Given its proximity to London, the South East is a popular destination for business and industry. Many hi-tech companies base themselves in the South East, such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Oracle.
The South East has excellent travel links to Europe and beyond. The Eurostar connects to the region to the continent; ships from Dover ferry people to France and Belgium; while Gatwick, Heathrow and smaller regional airports fly visitors here from all over the world. In addition, Portsmouth and Southampton contain two of the oldest and most strategically important ports in all of the UK.
I have produced a European funding guide detailing the various streams that organisations in the South East can look to gain funding from the European Union.