23 April 2004
Scotland could lose up to 50% of European funding because of the enlargement of the European Union, the director of a leading university research centre has warned.
Professor John Bachtler, of the European Research Centre at Strathclyde University, said the Highlands of Scotland, affected by an economic downturn, would possibly be the only area of Scotland to retain structural funding once the EU was enlarged to include countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and the Baltic states.
Chairing a conference on EU enlargement at Paisley University, Bachtler said the UK, Germany, France and other richer countries would be left struggling to win a share of diminished funding.
In a report on the implications of the reform of structural funds, Bachtler said it was estimated that, by 2006, the structural funds would have provided Scotland with £4bn of funding for economic development in most parts of the country.
He reckoned that Scotland faced a funding reduction of about a third, although there was also a possibility of a worst-case scenario resulting in a 50% reduction, cutting Scotland's aid by £2bn.
Bachtler said the Scottish Executive would have problems in funding new projects without EU aid and he believed that some local authorities might be forced to abandon long-term development plans.