Â£1.1bn investment for Wales gets go-ahead
A £1.1bn EU investment for Wales has been given the green light by the European Commission to help create jobs and boost the Welsh economy.
Finance minister Jane Hutt said it marked a "significant milestone" for further EU funds to be invested to help with the government's shared goals for sustainable economic growth.
The £1.1bn from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for Wales is to help drive research and innovation, SME competitiveness and business finance, renewable energy, and energy efficiency and infrastructure.
The European Social Fund (ESF) for Wales, worth £804m of EU funds investment, have been agreed in principle, with formal approval from the commission expected within the next few weeks.
The ERDF programmes, worth some £960m for West Wales and the Valleys and £162m for East Wales include:
• £310m for research and innovation
• £198m to boost competitiveness, including through business finance
• £439m for connectivity and urban development
Launching the fund, Jane Hutt said: "I am delighted to announce that the European Commission has approved the new European Regional Development Fund programmes for the West Wales and the Valleys and East Wales regions.
"We are the first region in the UK and among the front runners in Europe to have our ERDF programmes approved. This announcement marks a significant milestone for further EU funds to be invested to help deliver on our shared goals across Government for sustainable economic growth and jobs."
European commissioner for regional policy Corina Cretu added: "I congratulate our partners in East Wales and West Wales and the Valleys in reaching this milestone in strategic investment planning.
"Wales is the first to adopt programmes in the UK and, indeed, it is a model for the rest of Europe's regions in terms of 'partnership in action'. Thanks to the tireless work and dedication – from ministerial level to the grassroots – we are able to launch these vital programmes for investments that will set Wales on the path to smart and green growth."