Scotland politics

Scotland 'faces EU funding cut', says SNP's Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland is facing a disproportionate cut in European structural funds thought to be worth about a quarter-of-a-billion pounds, SNP ministers said.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the allocation could be cut by 30% from 2014-20, which was five times the reduction for the UK as a whole.

Her comments came after a budget deal was struck by EU member states, following lengthy talks.

The UK government said final allocations had not yet been set.

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon: "What we want to do in these discussions is better understand how these figures have been arrived at."

The agreement reached by EU leaders in Brussels earlier this month represented a 3.3% reduction from the previous seven-year budget.

The Scottish government said the deal would cut the UK's allocation of structural funds by about 6%, amounting to 30% in Scotland, according to "initial" calculations.

Scots ministers said a new formula for allocating funding was based on population density, meaning areas like the Highlands would be particularly badly hit.

Structural funding is seen as vital for supporting projects to boost the region's economy, like green energy and other infrastructure schemes including road improvement.

Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament that Wales and Northern Ireland also faced cuts, while England's allocation was expected to rise.

She said officials from the UK and devolved governments had agreed to work together to seek an alternative funding formula.

Ms Sturgeon added: "Clearly, I am very concerned by what would be a disproportionate reduction in European structural funding for Scotland.

"The prospects are good and I'm optimistic that we can get to a much better and fairer allocation, but there's work to do to get there."

The budget deal still has to be agreed by the European Parliament.

A Scotland Office spokesman said: "The structural funds allocations within the UK for the next financial perspective have not been set. Any story to the contrary is wholly inaccurate.

"MFF (Multi-Annual Financial Framework) is a good result for the UK, in line with the position of SNP votes in Parliament in November. It will benefit UK taxpayers across the UK.

"Officials in Defra and BIS are working with Scottish government officials on what this will mean for funds through CAP and Structural Funds."

The UK government said said precise allocations would only be made after there has been an agreement with the European Parliament and added that it was important the Scottish government has a full opportunity to feed in views.

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