Addressing the National Assembly on the eve of Europe Day, he said that European Programmes 2014-2020, which include the Structural Funds and the Rural Development Programme, will need to be flexible and adaptable, but with a single-minded focus on delivering sustainable growth and jobs for businesses and people across Wales.
Mr Davies added:
"The Welsh Government’s clear aim is for West Wales and the Valleys not to be eligible for the highest level of Structural Funds support post-2020, and for sustainable and diversified agriculture and fisheries industries. I recognise that EU funding, as valuable it is, cannot achieve this on its own. It is important that we all work together so that EU programmes act as an enabler and help drive our collective goals for sustainable jobs and economic growth.”
While final funding allocations are unlikely to be confirmed until 2013, work will now get underway to develop the detail of the programmes in collaboration with Welsh partners.
Mr Davies said:
"We must all face up to the challenge of making tough choices about how and where we should invest resources. Resources cannot be spread thinly across a broad range of interventions. We need to invest in areas which have genuine potential to transform our economic prospects. The programmes will also have clear guiding principles and place a strong emphasis on delivering the Europe 2020 strategy goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth as well as those of the Welsh Government.”
During his statement, Mr Davies said that skills, helping people into work, innovation and business competitiveness will play a key role in the Structural Funds programmes while under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) there would be a further focus on areas such as rural employment, SMEs and community renewal.
He also said that some of the guiding principles reflected in the programmes would include targeting resources to ensure maximum impact, ensuring sustainability of investments and facilitating the role of the private sector in the creation of sustainable jobs and growth.
The statement follows a reflection exercise in which Welsh partners were given the opportunity to have their say on the direction of future programmes to ensure shared goals and priorities. A European Programmes Partnership Forum has also met regularly to discuss and provide advice to the Welsh Government on how the future European programmes can be maximised for the benefit of Wales.
Investment Priorities for future European Programmes are:
Structural Funds Programmes:
- Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning (including actions aimed at early years)
- Research and Innovation
- Helping people into work
- Sustainable transport and network infrastructure
- Enterprise and SME competitiveness
- Sustainable energy and energy efficiency
- Access to and exploitation of the Digital Economy
Rural Development Programme:
- Protecting the environment and resource efficiency
- Climate change adaptation
- Community-led local development
- Renewal of rural communities