The UK has benefitted hugely from European investment. Billions of pounds in European funding have been directly invested in this country to help create jobs, improve skills training, support regional development, boost our science, charity and agriculture sectors, and strengthen our universities and wider Higher Education sector. Billions more in EU investment is planned to 2020.
Such is the importance of European funding that the Leave campaign pledged to continue all EU funding programmes to 2020, saying that “if the public votes to Leave on June 23rd, we will continue to fund EU programmes in the UK until 2020, or up to the date when the EU is due to conclude individual programmes if that is earlier than 2020.” Indeed, the Leave campaign promised to increase overall levels of public expenditure with their fabled £350m a week extra for the NHS.
Delivering all European funding
We believe that all European funding levels planned to 2020 must be preserved, matched with substitute funding by the UK Government if EU funding streams cease.
The Government has promised to honour multi-year funding streams for projects that were signed before last year’s Autumn Statement but not those beyond, which will be subject to ‘arrangements for assessing whether to guarantee funding for specific structural and investment fund projects.’ These arrangements are also in place only for the period that the UK remains a member of the EU, which the Government state will end prior to 2020. Overall levels of planned funding are therefore not guaranteed until 2020 but must be in order to honour the Leave campaign’s promise.
Ensuring Funding Beyond 2020
Leaving the EU means the UK will not benefit from the next Multiannual Financial Framework between 2021 and 2027. The funding for sectors and programmes that would otherwise benefit from EU funding in this period has not yet been addressed and the UK Government should therefore guarantee that the same envelope of funding will be delivered over this period, dispelling fears that leaving the EU will lead to a longer-term reduction in investment.
Exploring Continued Involvement in the European Investment Bank
As part of the EU, the UK is a member of the European Investment Bank (EIB) – the largest multilateral lender in the world in terms of assets, which provides finance to projects across a range of sectors in EU member states. In 2015, EIB lending to the UK totalled a record €7.8 billion. The UK must explore whether it is possible to remain a shareholder of the EIB and, if not, underwrite projects whose financing is rejected by the EIB due to our leaving the EU, with replacement financing schemes put in place.