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Uncertainty in ESIF Programming and Regional Policy in the UK

An Article 50 Half-Time Analysis

Jayne Woolford

The UK referendum on EU membership resulted in a vote to leave. One year on from the triggering of Article 50 on March 29 2017, and with one year of membership of the bloc remaining, there are still many unknowns. The UK European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) programmes are particularly vulnerable to the uncertainties surrounding the negotiations and the future UK-EU relationship, with UK withdrawal cutting across the 2014-2020 Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF). The UK is due to exit the EU on 29 March 2019, with a transitional period until 31 December 2020 leaving the UK with Third Country status for the last 21 months of the current MFF period. Political agreement to date allows for UK continued participation in ESIF programming until the end of the current programming period and potentially in the subsequent post-2020 MFF. Whilst there is some comfort that the status quo may be maintained during the current programming period, this article seeks to outline the challenges around the implementation of regional policy in the UK as its status changes from EU Member State (MS) to Third Country under a transitional period, and beyond.

Dr Jayne Woolford works on ESIF and wider EU funding and policies on a freelance basis. She has experience in EU, central, regional and local government levels and academia, and of working on funding in UK, Latvia and Croatia. The article has been drafted at mid-way point in the 2 year Article 50 process and refers to developments until the end of March 2018. The views expressed in this article are personal.


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