Regional Development

Regi Committee

Andrew is also the UK Conservative spokesman for Regional Development in the EU, known as the Regi Committee. The Regi Committee very much represents local authorities within the EU. Since July 2014 he has represented British interests, and led the European Conservative and Reformist (ECR) team, on the European Parliament's Regional Development committee. This committee scrutinises all aspects of the EU's main investment tool: the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds. As a former council Leader Andrew is very much playing to his strengths in this role.

Conservative commitments

Following the election of a Conservative majority government in May 2015, Conservative MEPs have reaffirmed their commitment to a jobs, skills and growth-driven EU agenda and to supporting the Prime Minister’s three ‘Rs’:  

·        Reform of the European Union 

·        Renegotiation of our relationship with the EU

·        An ‘in-out’ referendum that lets the British people decide

Our election manifesto promised to raise the growth rate across England, helping slower-growth areas achieve the national average by devolving far-reaching powers over economic development, transport and social care to our major cities that choose to adopt a system of elected mayors; delivering more bespoke Growth Deals with local councils; and backing our 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships to promote jobs and growth.

Andrew and his Conservative MEP colleagues are translating these manifesto commitments into action at the European level by focussing EU regional development policy for 2014-2020 on innovation, research and development, support for SMEs, a low carbon economy, skills, employment and social inclusion. 

We will also continue our push for EU funding to be simpler, more accessible, provide better value for money for the UK taxpayer, and for every decision at EU level to be based on solid impact assessments and the core principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

Controlling EU spending

EU regional funding, delivered through the ESI Funds, is the EU’s main investment tool, the total pot for which amounts to some €351.8 billion: that's almost a third of the total EU budget for 2014-2020. 

Conservative MEPs have a strong record when it comes to controlling and targeting this significant slice of funding. We called for, and won, a reduction in the EU budget to 2020 that contributed to an overall reduction of more than £20billion in the regional development budget. 

But it is not just about reducing the amount of money we contribute to the EU now and in future. It is about ensuring that what we do give is targeted to achieve maximum value for money. Making sure regional development funds are spent effectively and efficiently is of vital interest to the UK.

Supporting localism 

The European Commission recently adopted the England Operational Programme for 2014-2020, worth some €6.5 billion. 

As a former County Council Leader and Deputy Chairman of the LGA, Andrew lobbied hard for significant local engagement in delivering these funds across England and Wales, and welcomed the UK Government's decision to review the key adviser status of local authorities and LEPs by early 2016. 

He also works closely with Conservative colleagues on the Committee of the Regions - local government's representative body in the EU.

Andrew also believes that net contributor Member States - those, like the UK, who put more in to the EU Budget than they take out - should be able to hand control of EU regional funding back to local and regional authorities, who know best what their areas need in order to innovate, create jobs, and retain a skilled workforce. 

He firmly backs the call to bring regional policy home. 

Renegotiation and Reform

Conservative MEPs understand the merits of improved competitiveness across Europe for the UK. We also acknowledge the positive contribution of EU funding to reducing regional disparities across the EU, where this is accompanied by simultaneous political, institutional and infrastructural reforms.

Andrew does not believe, however, that UK taxpayers' money should be used to indefinitely delay the tough, but essential economic reforms necessary to achieve greater competitiveness in some EU Member States. This will be just one focus of UK Conservative efforts to reform the EU and renegotiate our relationship with it, before letting the British people decide in an 'in-out' referendum.

Andrew is happy to hear your views, especially if you are a local councillor in the East Midlands.