How important are EU structural funds across the UK regions?

13 June 2016

EU structural funds support economic development across EU countries and their constituent regions. Between 2014-2020 the UK is set to receive €10.9 billion in European Regional Development and European Social Funds (hereafter ‘structural funds’). The funds aim to reduce economic and social inequalities between the EU’s regions. As such, most of the funding supports economic development in poorer regions. This means the distribution of EU structural funds varies greatly across UK regions.

Wales – one of the UK’s poorest regions – is set to receive €2.4 billion between 2014-2020, the highest figure of any UK region. In contrast, the South East – one of the UK’s richest region – will receive €286 million.

EU structural funds have played an important role in sustaining employment in poorer UK regions. Since 2007 it is estimated that ERDF projects have created 44,311 jobs in Scotland, 36,640 jobs in Wales and 20,149 jobs in Yorkshire.

If the UK votes to leave the EU, it will no longer receive structural funds. However, a post-Brexit UK government would likely commit to replace regional economic development funding currently provided by the EU.

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