§ Mr. Spring
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proposals the Government are putting 797W to the European Commission on structural funds in the European Union for its third report on structural funds. 
§ Alan Johnson
The Government have not yet put any formal proposals to the European Commission for its Third Report on Economic and Social Cohesion, which is not due to he published until late 2003 or early 2004. However, from my statement at the Namur Informal Council on Regional Policy in July 2001, the Commission will be aware of the Government's view that the next reform of the Structural Funds must ensure that they contribute better to the Lisbon agenda of improving Europe's competitiveness and modernising its economies. Improvements are needed in both the effectiveness of the funds and the means to evaluate their impact and added value. Also, greater efforts must be made to simplify the funds and remove unnecessary bureaucracy, while maintaining proper financial control.