Dragons Eye reported tonight that despite billions of pounds of of European structural funds pumped into the welsh economy that GDP has fallen – it’s not news, this has been the story ever since Wales was first awarded Objective 1 money in 1998 because parts of Wales were so poor compared to the rest of Europe.
Aside from BBC Wales only interviewing one of Wales 4 MEP’s about the new figures that show Wales is in line for more money, Labour’s Derek Vaughan does get some credit for not being a total one eyed drone and acknowledging that Objective 1 money was badly misspent unlike his Welsh Ministerial colleagues, who despite hard facts and a wealth of evidence are still in denial that anything was wrong then or now with the priorities, management and spending of Objective 1 and its successor Convergence funds in west Wales and the valleys over the past decade or so.
But whatever fairy stories the Welsh government and their officials are telling the European Commission about the success of European funds because all we have is praise from the grey suits in Brussels over WEFO and the Welsh governments performance, they aren’t fooling everyone back home in Wales.
The figures would be bad enough normally, but with the cuts back to Welsh Government budgets this is money that Wales can ill afford to be squandered on pet projects, vested interests and Ministerial whims, it would be good to think that lessons are being learned and politicians and officials will adapt, but it’s doubtful.
When Wales qualified for the first round of objective one money a colleague said that it was the equivalent of winning the booby prize in raffle – now parts of Wales are in line to qualify for a third round European money its shameful.
Its also no coincidence with these new figures on the failure of European finding and welsh unemployment now standing at 131,000 or 9% of the workforce that the First Minister and other Welsh politicians want to keep voters focused on the Rugby World Cup instead of the pitiful state of the economy.
UPDATE Dylan Jones Evans has a very interesting post on the matter also