Thursday, 18 March 2010

Westminster, Wales and Europe

On Monday (15th March 2010) I headed to Westminster, London to meet with Nick Hurd MP, Shadow Third Sector Minister and Mark Francois MP, Shadow Europe Minister. The meeting was arranged by the Euclid Network (the European Network of Third Sector Leaders of which I am a member). We wanted to know what would or could a Conservative Government do for the UK Third Sector in Europe.

The journey to London on First Great Western was not straightforward - I was booked on the 11.55 a.m. train which I boarded. The service was subsequently cancelled because of a lack of a driver. I wonder how the train got the station in the first place?!!! So, we all had to get off the train, change platforms and catch the 12.25 p.m. train. However, every cloud has a silver lining and there was a travelling chef on board, so at least I could have a freshly cooked lunch!!

Anyway, I digress! I arrived at Portcullis House, Westminster in plenty of time and met up with my fellow Euclid Network members prior to the meeting. In a meeting room with views across Parliament Square, we met with the Shadow Ministers. We are able to put across the sector's frustration regarding the bureaucracy around European Funding. I was able to address the meeting by giving real examples from Wales, and the effects of a heavily bureaucratic process on small to medium size organisations.

Despite being one of the largest funders in the world, the European Union's funding streams remain the most bureaucratic, inflexible and difficult to access. We would like to see European funding more accessible, easier to manage and report, more flexible and better value for money as a source of social innovation.

It was good to be able to add a Welsh dimension to the discussions and to put over the views of smaller Third Sector organisations. The Shadow Ministers listened and did seem concerned about the issues we raised. At least the issue of European Funding for the Third Sector is now on their agenda. Of course this message needs to get across to politicians of all parties. The Euclid Network is tenacious in banging the drum for more accessible European funding for the Third Sector. I'm pleased to belong to a Network that can access those who are able to influence, shape and make policy. It will be interesting to see what happens next!!

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