Liberal Democrats

Kay Barnard

Working For You

Our region is extraordinarily diverse both in terms of towns and countryside, but also in the huge range of livelihoods. From high tech engineering to farming and fishing, from higher education to tourism, our economy has a high proportion of small businesses and a real independence of spirit. We’re a “can-do” bunch on the whole.

The South West region stretches from the northern border of Gloucestershire across Wiltshire and Dorset to Bournemouth and west to Lands End and the Channel Isles. As a quirk of history, Gibraltar is included in the South West as a British Overseas Territory.

Currently the South West gains financially from EU funding - more comes into the region from the EU than goes out in payments. Most of that comes from regional economic support for Cornwall and from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which supports farming and the environment. Whether that continues to be the case depends on negotiations at the national and European level.

Support for the Cornish economy from the “Convergence Programme” comes to an end in 2013 and we need strong representatives to fight our corner. The CAP and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) are both being changed at the moment. There’s no doubt that both are overdue for reform and need to be made more responsive to local conditions. The idea that the EU Commission can set detailed targets over such different geographies and cultures is frankly not sensible and at least that has been recognised for the fishing industry.

For more information on reform of the CFP there is a useful article at Fishing management will made more local and involve producer organisations, something to be cheered.

The shape of CAP reform is not clear at the moment. There are huge internal conflicts over the final shape of the reforms. Although I don’t know the political background of this author, Prof. Erjavek’s report seems to be a fair analysis of the different perspectives of the European member states.

Current proposals include an aim to set environmental targets which will apply across the whole of the EU, irrespective of local conditions. In addition he has written about the problems of a centralised environmental policy which may not achieve environmental benefits at all in its current form.“emperor-naked”/

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