Friday, 28 November 2008

Wales and Whitehall pass buck on EU fine

I've just been e-mailed this story that's on

Tensions are mounting between Whitehall and Wales due to a disagreement over which branch of government is liable for a £12.6 million EU fine, Regeneration & Renewal can reveal.
The penalty imposed on the UK relates to financial mismanagement of a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme in Wales from 1997-1999 (R&R, 21 November, p1).

But Whitehall departments and the Welsh Assembly Government (Wag) have been quick to exonerate themselves of blame, leaving confusion over who will eventually foot the bill.

The Wag has repeatedly told Regeneration & Renewal that, as the fine relates to a programme that predates devolution, the responsibility lies with central government.

But a spokesman for the UK's ERDF lead body, the Department of Business and Regulatory Reform, although admitting that the situation was confused, said: "We're not in a position to say who will pay the fine at the moment. Issues on this sort of scale in devolved administrations are for those administrations to address."

Prior to the devolution of power to Cardiff, the Welsh Office, a Whitehall department disbanded in 1999, was responsible for all Welsh issues, including EU funding programmes.

A fuss about nothing or another demonstration of a London/Cardiff divide?

Dewi Tri

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