'Cornish embassy' would continue to represent county in EU

Council tenders for contract for continued operations of an office in Brussels after Brexit

The clock might be ticking to Brexit on 29 March, but even if Britain leaves the EU on that date, a “Cornish embassy” will continue to speak out in Brussels.

Cornwall council is tendering for a contract for the continued operations of an office in the city “to support our efforts to define our place within the new UK/EU relationship”.

About £240,000 has been put aside to support the project, which will cover what is envisaged to be a Brexit transition period.

Providing that there is a deal between the UK and the EU, and therefore a transition period, the council states on the tender contract that EU funds will continue to flow until the end of 2023 into Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (CIoS).

“Having a Cornwall Brussels office in place will ensure that we have a channel through which we can engage directly with EU stakeholders on funding issues during this period,” it says.

A deadline of 11 February has been set for receipt of bids to the council, which is the only local authority in England covering what qualifies under EU rules as a less developed region (LDR).

Cornwall had been receiving £80m a year in EU funding, according to the council, money that has gone into jobs, local businesses, infrastructure, training and research. It had been on course to receive about £350m for the next round of funding from the years after 2020.

Despite this, Cornwall registered a leave vote of 56.5% during the EU referendum, a result that has mystified some but was explained in recent research by Exeter and Plymouth University as being due to perceptions of the EU as being remote.

Liberal Democrat Adam Paynter, the leader of Cornwall council, said: “The EU has been very supportive for us both in terms of infrastructure and growing our economy and our Brussels office has been instrumental in keeping up with calls fro funding. We had a recent vote to keep the office.

“Unfortunately the council did not do as it could have done in the past to ensure that people understood the benefits of EU membership and what the structural funds gave us.

“That will be an issue for Cornwall – if we ever leave the EU. We have a little way to go but as a council we are working on being self-sufficient because we certainly don’t get the government support that may have been there in the past.”

As well as supporting the continuation of the Brussels office, the council also voted to support holding a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.


Ben Quinn

The GuardianTramp

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