European billions to help with regeneration in counties
Cornwall and Devon will be among the English regions to get the biggest share of more than £5 billion of European Union regeneration cash to boost the poorest areas of the 27-nation bloc.
But all parts of the UK are facing a 5% cut in support over the next six years from Brussels' "structural funds", broadly in line with the overall cut to the EU budget negotiated by national governments last month.
Since last year, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been expecting to receive the highest level of hand-out available as the area remains in the category of the most impoverished corners of Europe.
In February, David Cameron confirmed Devon as one of 11 UK regions to get the second- highest level of support available – a status that was in doubt and risked leaving the area's economy being overtaken by neighbouring Cornwall's.
Since the mid-1990s, around £1 billion of "structural funds" have been pumped into Cornwall, which has paid for one of the fastest broadband connections in Europe, the development of Newquay Airport and the Combined Universities in Cornwall project.
A breakdown of how much each area will receive was due to be announced shortly after the £6 billion figure was confirmed by ministers for the first time.
Sir Graham Watson, Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West, said: "It is not surprising that with a real terms cut in the overall budget, regional growth funding would also follow suit.
"I welcome the Government's continued commitment to giving regions the power to invest funds in creating new jobs and stimulating economic growth." He added: "Cornwall is a net beneficiary of the European Union, to the tune of around £21 million a year in direct funding and millions as a result of this extra investment.
"We wait to see the final figures for how much Devon and Cornwall will receive as part of the extra funding the two counties are entitled to."
In March, official figures revealed Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is still below 75% of the European average – meaning it is in line for seven more years of help from next year.
The GDP of Cornwall and the Scillies was 71.9% of the European average in 2009, meaning it remains poorer than parts of Romania, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
A category of regions "in transition", which have a GDP between 75% and 90% of the EU average, stand to get funding, but not on the same scale. Across the Tamar, Devon qualifies as it recorded output at 86.5%. But recent research showed that, in areas of Devon, including Torbay, North Devon, and Teignbridge, there is significant higher risk of sliding into poverty compared to Cornwall and the rest of the UK.
Business Minister Michael Fallon said Scotland will receive a total of around 795 million euros (£677 million) for the period 2014-20, Northern Ireland 457 million euros (£389 million), Wales 2.145 billion euros (£1.83 billion) and England 6.174 billion euros (£5.26 billion).
He added: "EU structural funds are important for supporting economic activity. The EU formula would have seen several areas in most need of funds lose out, so we have taken the decision to correct that."