Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-01-17-Speech-1-084"

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"Mr President, like my colleague Mr Evans, it is a particular pleasure to rise and make my first speech to this House on this very important issue, especially since I represent a part of the United Kingdom, the West Midlands, which has hitherto benefited from Objective 2 funding in particular. But the report before the House tonight is a prime example of how, if we are not very careful, we can produce very grandiose-sounding ideas that lack the substance to make them relevant to the people who benefit directly from them. The report itself is well-intentioned but, as so often when we deal with these issues, lacks clarity of purpose and a sound basis for operability. That is why I and my Group are proposing three key amendments and additions to the text, not to take anything away from the proposal, but to make it more relevant to those whom it is there to guide. I would like to explain our thinking here. Firstly, we are concerned with the proper use of the Structural and Cohesion Funds. Past experience dictates that, as the elected representatives of the European taxpayer, we should, and indeed must, demand financial probity and transparency in the disbursement and auditing of this money, hence our amendments and additions relate to achieving what are known as "value for money" indicators in the grant-giving process. Next, we all too often see vast sums of money being spent on projects whose outcomes will necessarily be unclear at the start of the programme period. But at the mid-way point or end of that period there is no effective way of terminating the project if it has not proved successful. Our additions therefore call for the provision of practical enforceable exit strategies so that not only can we have the requisite insurance against ongoing costs which are often loaded onto the taxpayer, but we also avoid the well-rehearsed syndrome of throwing good money after bad. Finally, we call for a change to the balance and method by which the funds are disbursed. There should be greater involvement of the private sector which will introduce financial reality as a perspective within the funding equation. Also the type of project funded needs to be shifted away from small-scale revenue-based projects, which are hard to monitor, towards capital schemes where, in the majority of cases, the benefits are there for all to see. That way the much-trumpeted need for transparency in the use of these funds and the temptation to draw unnecessarily in the longer term on the local tax base in areas where such projects are located will be diminished and the European Parliament will show how seriously it takes the need for such reform. If these changes to the report are supported by the House today, I believe that they will move us forward in the next phase of achieving the historic objectives which the funds were set up to bring about, namely to assist – in a financially sustainable manner – those deprived areas of the European Union which need to be brought up to a decent standard of living, not by giving a hand-out but by giving a "hand-up". I urge the House to support these changes."@en1

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