I am sure readers will recall Regional Development Offices introduced by John Major in 1994, the setting up of which was because Major had, in effect, his arm twisted so to do, their creation being conditional on the continued flow of EU funding. It was proffered at the time that this was no more than a way whereby the EU could bypass national government with a view to hastening the regionalisation of the United Kingdom. (for any reader that would like a history of RDOs they can do no better than read this article, from 2006, by Richard North).
It will also be recalled that under the Coalition Agreement the present government committed to establishing local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) to replace Regional Development Offices.
Recalling also that the EU, having set its sights on something, never gives up should it fail first time, my attention was drawn to a speech given today by Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, from which:
We have made clear that the dialogue between levels of government (multi-level governance) is essential to ensure that strategies and programmes do reflect needs and characteristics of territories and investment have maximum impact.
We have made clear that regional and local authorities are our primary partners and will play a central role in designing, implementing, and monitoring investment. (Emphasis mine)
Referral to this document shows, in their own words, how a common set of standards to improve consultation, participation and dialogue with partners such as regional, local, urban and other public authorities, trade unions, employers, non-governmental organisations and bodies responsible for promoting social inclusion, gender equality and non-discrimination during the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), have been set up. Note towards the foot of the page a link can be found to the Delegated Regulation.
Note, from the Staff Working Document (SWD):
In the United Kingdom, between 2007 and 2013, partners were already involved in consultations at different points in the programming cycle. For the new 2014-2020 programming period, the UK Government has published guidance on European Union Investment Strategies, to explain the role partners will be invited to play, the support that will be available to them, and the timetable for implementation.
Bearing in mind the European Union issued a press release on 7th January this year, google European Code of Conduct on the Partnership Principle and not one mention of any member of the MSM appears. And much is made of the fact that the European Union does not appear in the top concerns of the British public – is it any wonder? I rest my case.
That what goes round comes round, in respect of the European Union, is also applicable to the United Kingdom. Consider: every five years the electorate is given the opportunity to kick out one government and replace it with another – and to what end? Consider: between 2007 and 2013. Once again I rest my case.
What goes round sure does comes round – does it not?