Welsh assembly members vote against cut in EU budget

Talks between EU member states begin on Thursday to try and reach agreement on the budget from 2014 onwards

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Welsh assembly members have voted against any cut in the EU budget which leaves Wales worse off.

A summit of EU leaders to decide the union's spending priorities for 2014-20 starts in Brussels on Thursday.

The Welsh government said cutting the EU budget would not be in Wales' interests.

Prime Minister David Cameron wants a freeze in spending and has threatened to use the UK's veto against an increase in the budget.

Last month Labour MPs sided with Eurosceptic Conservatives at Westminster to vote for a real-terms cut - a tougher stance than Mr Cameron's.

Start Quote

It would be irresponsible not to expect and demand that British taxpayers' money is spent efficiently and in a way that delivers value for money”

End Quote Antoinette Sandbach Conservative AM

A Plaid Cymru-tabled motion in the assembly called on ministers "not to promote or agree to any reduction in the European budget which will have an adverse impact on Wales and on our ability to strengthen the Welsh economy".

It was passed by 34 votes to 18 on Wednesday.

Farming funds

Labour's deputy minister for European programmes, Alun Davies, said Wales had benefited from the EU's common agricultural policy (Cap) payments to farmers and structural funds to improve the economy.

"Any delay in agreeing this budget and any cuts to either Cap or structural funds would not be in Wales' best interests," he said.

Mr Davies said Wales received £1.8bn from structural funds in the 2007-13 spending period. Farmers were paid £260m a year thanks to Cap, he added.

Plaid finance spokesman Ieuan Wyn Jones urged AMs to endorse "a message coming from this National Assembly that we want to protect the EU budget because we are standing up for the people of Wales".

However, Conservative AMs opposed the motion.

Tory AM Antoinette Sandbach said the UK government had taken the right approach by arguing for a budget freeze.

She said: "It would be irresponsible not to expect and demand that British taxpayers' money is spent efficiently and in a way that delivers value for money."

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