- Between 2007 and 2013 the North West has shared another £700m in EU funding
- Between 2014 and 2020 the North West will receive over £845m in EU funding
- One important stream of EU funding is the European Social Fund, which is focused on improving education and employment opportunities. This includes Cheshire West and Chester Council being awarded more than £400,000 of ESF to help support some of the Borough’s families in overcoming barriers to get back into employment.
- Manchester University alone has received over £23m in ERDF funding towards the National Graphene research institute.
- Merseyside has had a love affair with European funding since 1994 when £700m of funding was allocated under the Objective 1 programme. In 2000 another £928m followed. It is now a ‘Transition Region’.
- Another EU funding stream, Horizon 2020, provided €2.66 million to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) who will lead on an international project to set a global ethical standard for research.
- As a result of EU investment in the North West, 6,160,000 additional visitors have visited the region between 2007 and 2013, with a total visitor spend of over £413,000,000.
For 40 years EU funded projects have been instrumental to bringing new jobs and investment to the North West. EU money allowed much needed regeneration and investment across the region, and continues to receive investment from the EU with €1,131.6 million to come to the North West from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Structural Funds (ESF) from 2014 to 2020. From research grants for students to helping businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, the EU’s investment in the North West makes a big contribution to our growing economy.
Invests in our universities
The North West has a reputation for educational excellence, with 13 universities including Lancaster University, the University of Manchester and the University of Liverpool. These universities gain a huge amount from the EU with the University of Manchester receiving £23m in ERDF money for Graphene research, and the University of Liverpool receiving £10m in ERDF money towards the construction of a new Bio Innovation Hub. Researchers and scientists from across the North West have often only been able to produce their ground-breaking work because of European Research Council grants.
Thousands of students studying at universities in the North West take part in Erasmus exchange schemes, meaning more young people than ever from the UK are reaping the benefits of studying in another European country. And the Erasmus scheme helps British students too, who can travel abroad to gain skills to help them with their future careers without having to break the bank, since a special Erasmus grant helps to cover the extra costs of living abroad for students. Students who have spent a year abroad on Erasmus programmes have an unemployment rate 23% lower than other students too – showing the economy can benefit as well as individual students. Erasmus builds links between universities all over Europe – and these links can also develop into academic and business opportunities.
Invests in Small Businesses
The EU has invested £4.7 billion in England, supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It’s expected that 65,000 SMEs will have received support because of this investment by 2023. That includes 20,000 enterprises being expected to be able to actively innovate and create new products or processes as a direct result of this investment. £2.6 billion of this funding will come from the European Regional Development Fund, which focuses investment on research, support for SMEs and developing a low carbon economy.
The European Investment Bank
The European Investment Bank (EIB), lends money to projects that support the EU’s objectives and helps finance schemes across the North West and the rest of the UK. In 2014, the EIB invested £5 billion in the UK’s economy - that’s more than 20% more than the previous year (2013). This money allows large scale projects to be funded, such as the £500 million for Metrolink extension and improvement programme cross Greater Manchester.
Other examples of EIB funding in the North West include €120 million for urban regeneration in Manchester, €185 to support the expansion of Liverpool Port, a £50.7 million long-term loan to build 11 new schools in the Region, over €60 million for Alder Hey hospital and the £100 million North West Urban Investment Fund.
What happens if we leave?
Leaving the EU would mean that automatic access to all this investment would stop. It would be harder for researchers to have their projects funded, damaging the North West’s reputation for excellent higher education. British students studying foreign languages and other students who wanted to experience a year abroad would find it harder to get financial support without the Erasmus scheme. This might lead to only wealthy students being able to afford to study abroad – a massive step backwards for social mobility and equality of opportunity. Small businesses would have less support from the EU, and would have to take fewer risks, meaning less exciting new innovation.