Thursday, February 24, 2011


Yesterday, Eurostat released the latest data on GDP per inhabitant, expressed in terms of purchasing power standards, in the EU27's regions. The data shows that West Wales and the Valleys has now declined to 71 per cent of the EU average, the lowest of any part of the UK.

In 2000, the level was 76 per cent and since then, we have had the poorer countries of the former Central and Eastern Europe joined the European Union and yet the relative GDP per inhabitant has continued to decrease. Given this, it is likely that West Wales and the Valleys will, for the third time, qualify for the highest level of European Structural Funding.

I have already written on this previously and my answers to the Enterprise and Learning Committee of the National Assembly for Wales last month on the same subject can be seen here.

Whilst some politicians remain in denial about the worsening economic state of West Wales and the Valleys, the map above is testament to the shameful performance of our poorest region during the last decade and the situation we now find ourselves in. All the areas in yellow are poorer than West Wales and the Valleys in 2008 whilst all those in brown are more prosperous. 

The question here is where the billions of pounds of public and structural funding in West Wales Valleys has gone over this period and why, despite the membership of poorer regions such as Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, its relative performance continues to fall? 

Surely, with all these resources at our disposal, we can do better than this?