|Andrew Duff MEP|
"EU Connects is proving to be highly popular in our region. Local economic partnerships (LEPs), universities, local government and the voluntary sector are all taking full advantage of the funding available from the EU to assist with capacity building and project development for much larger application for EU grants and loans. The EU is complex and looks even more complicated than it really is. EU Connects helps people to fully exploit the advantages of EU membership and to improve the region's previously poor take-up of EU funds.
"Given that the EU Connects spending of only £250,000 is at present over-subscribed in the East of England, all its MEPs and MPs should speak up to stop the prime minister making savage cuts to this strategically key programme in particular.
"To date, EU Connects has prepared bids for EU funding of over € 2.8 million. Bids of € 726,000 have so far been approved - and several more significant bids are pending. Life-long learning and vocational training are particular favourites, as well as projects in public health and wildlife conservation.
"Mr Cameron should know that cutting EU Connects is an entirely false economy."
Speaking more generally about the controversial EU budget talks, Andrew Duff added:
"The UK government is coming across as being penny-pinching, failing to understand that spending at the EU level brings huge benefits in terms of cost efficiencies and economies of scale, as well as being critical in Europe's common effort to deepen the single market at this time of deep financial instability and economic recession.
"Liberal Democrats are determined that Britain should finally make up its mind to stay in the European Union and to work to make a real success of our membership. Those who toy with leaving should say where they want us to go."