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 On a proposal by Mr. MILLAN, in agreement with Mssrs. FLYNN, STEICHEN
 and PALEOKRASSAS, the Commission today approved in principle the
 Single Programming Document (SPD)  for structural assistance in
 favour of Merseyside (Objective1) for the period 1994-99. The SPD is
 the outcome of a new procedure brought in with the recent revision of
 the rules governing the Structural Funds, with the specific intention
 of simplifying the administrative steps needed to approve assistance:
 the strategic priorities as well as programming details are all
 included in the same document.  After the various consultative
 committees have delivered their opinions(1) the Commission will adopt
 the final decision, which will take immediate effect and open the way
 for the first financial commitments.

 The total assistance from the Structural Funds through the Objective
 1 programming document is 816 million (2) Ecu (636 million pounds)
 creating a total investment of 2.000 million ECU (1560 million #), of
 which about 370 million Ecu is from the private sector.  The
 breakdown by Fund of the Community contribution is the following:

                         Million ECU

 Regional Fund (ERDF)         475     58.2%
 Social Fund (ESF)            338     41.4%
 Agricultural Fund
 (EAGGF Guidance)               3      O.4%

 The vision of the Objective 1 programme is to establish Merseyside as
 a prosperous European City Region with a diverse economic base, which
 provides access to employment, within the local community, which
 develops its people, their skills, talents and well-being and
 emphasises its role as a Gateway between Europe and the rest of the
 world.

 _________________

 (1)  Consultative Committee for the Development and Conversion of
      Regions, Article 124  Committee, Management Committee for
      Agricultural  Structure  and Rural  Development,  Standing
      Management Committee for the Fishing Industry.

 (2)  All amounts are at 1994 prices.

 Announcing today's decision, Mr Millan said: "Community Structural
 Funds are not new for Merseyside. The Objective 1 programme will
 build on the successes and lessons of the past. Support from the

 Structural Funds is designed to raise business competitiveness on
 Merseyside as well as to tackle the economic and social disparities
 of many communities within the region.  I am confident that
 Merseyside  will take advantage of its opportunity offered by
 Objective 1 to create the investment and jobs that are so badly
 needed.  The approach set  out in the programme - improving
 competitiveness and targeting support on communities most in need -
 provides a good basis for achieving this."

 Over  the period 1989-93, the financial contribution from the
 Structural Funds to Merseyside though all Objectives has amounted to
 over 334 million ECU in today's prices - an average of almost 67
 million ECU a year -, and the experience of these programmes has been
 valuable.  Objective 1 status will double support to Merseyside
 through the Structural Funds to an average of 136 million ECU a year.

 The strategic objectives for Merseyside are to be achieved through
 five "drivers for change":

 *   investing in industry , addressing the needs of the key
     corporate sector enterprises in the region;

 *   helping the home-grown small business sector develop and grow;

 *   the knowledge-based industries  and advanced technologies,
     including environmental technologies;

 *   the cultural, media and leisure industries, in which Merseyside
     has particular strengths,

 *   the people of Merseyside.

 In implementing these drivers, a special "geographical targeting"
 will be followed, to reduce the very sharp degree of economic and
 social disparities within the region. The selection of areas for
 geographical  targeting will be carried out by the Monitoring
 Committee, on the basis of clear and transparent criteria, focusing
 both on areas offering a maximum opportunity and on areas having very
 high unemployment. For the "Pathways to integration" measure, there
 is a special targeting on the worst-off parts of the region such as
 parts of central Liverpool, Bootle, Birkenhead, Kirkby and St Helens.

 The Objective 1 programme consists of the following five priorities,
 drawn up on the basis of the "drivers for change":
  
 Priority 1: Inward investment and key corporate business development
 (178 MECU ERDF, 8 MECU ESF)

 This priority consists of measures designed to meet the needs of the
 key corporate sector and inward investors on Merseyside. A package of
 support is provided for  developing quality sites and premises,
 including access through the major gateways;  training support; an
 image campaign  complementing inward  investment activity;  and
 facilities for treating and recycling industrial waste.

 Priority no 2: Indigenous enterprise and local business development
 (106 MECU ERDF, 40 MECU ESF, 3 MECU EAGGF)

 As with the key corporate sector, a package of support is provided,
 including premises for SMEs and telecommunications links, business
 support and access to capital together with action to meet SME skills
 needs, as well as energy efficiency measures. Included within this
 sector are the farming, fishing and food processing industries.

 Priority no 3: knowledge-based industries and advanced technology
 development (42 MECU ERDF, 20 MECU ESF)

 Within an overall framework set by a Merseyside Research, Development
 and Innovation Strategy to be supported in the programme, a package
 of support is provided to meet the technology needs of businesses.
 This includes  support for  product development  helping clean
 technologies on Merseyside, links between research institutions and
 industry, and support for specific new tehcnology skills.

 Priority no 4: the cultural, media and leisure industries (38 MECU
 ERDF, 16 MECU ESF)

 In parallel with the SME measures in general, a package of measures
 is designed to support the development of the cultural, media and
 leisure industries, which have a particular strengths and potential
 on Merseyside, through premises, investment and skills support
 targeted on the particular needs of this sector.

 Priority no 5: Action for the people of Merseyside:  pathways to
 integration, a better training system, community development and a
 better quality of life. (109 MECU ERDF, 252 MECU ESF)

 A key objective of the priority is to reduce the economic and social
 disparities within Merseyside by creating opportunities for the
 people in the communities most affected by unemployment. The aim of
 the package is to map a route out from potential exclusion from the
 labour market to real employment opportunities and jobs. This route,
 called "Pathways to integration", includes:
 -   a pathway to education, with action aimed for young people to
     use the links between school, further education and work,
 -   a pathway to skills, with pre-vocational training and support
     helping to equip people with basic skills,
 -   a pathway to training, leading to qualifications needed by
     local firms,
 -   a pathway to jobs, with employment support and job placement
     schemes accompanied by business support for enterprises.
 
 This is accompanied by measures designed to improve the quality of
 life, including support for public transport as well as environmental
 improvements.

 These measures include help for local communities to draw up
 "pathways" schemes adapted to their own needs.

 Finally, there is support for technical assistance (2 MECU ERDF, 2
 MECU ESF) providing help for recruiting staff to the programme
 secretariat, training coordinators and local economic development
 agents, as well as purchasing advice and expertise on evaluation and
 programme management issues.

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