Time to ensure there's a fair share of Euro-funding on offer
On one side of the Tamar, in Cornwall, European aid is currently worth £1,120 a head.
Move across the river into Torridge and that funding reduces to £118 – just about 10% as much.
Now I am not arguing for Cornwall to receive less. Indeed, the county has already secured another seven years of European funding.
What I want to see is Devon treated more fairly and that is why I have written to all our MPs urging them to support this move.
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It would not involve increasing Britain's contributions to the EU. What it would do is cut the cake more equitably.
At the moment EU aid is based on the comparative poverty of each region judged by their gross domestic product or GDP.
Cornwall's GDP is 73% of the European average which is below the 75% qualifying rate for the highest EU aid.
Devon's GDP, including Plymouth and Torbay, is 88% of the European average.
Currently this sees us receiving the same level of funding per head as Brussels and inner London which has a GDP of 327% of the European average. Hardly a level playing field.
The new funding proposals create a third tier of "transition" areas, with GDP between 75% and 90% of the European average, which is why Devon would receive extra benefit.
And that can only be right. At the moment there is a real danger of businesses choosing to set up in Cornwall just because of the disparity in European aid.
And yet Torridge, West Devon, North Devon, the South Hams, East Devon and Torbay all have lower average weekly earnings than Cornwall. Indeed Torridge has the lowest average wages in the UK. In 2011 the average gross weekly pay in Torridge was £333 compared to Cornwall's £409.
Now I want to re-emphasise that I am not criticising Cornwall. The county has serious problems that EU funding is helping to resolve.
But it is my job to speak up for Devon and to do my level best to ensure our county gets its fair share of whatever funding is going.
The new three-tier funding proposals would be an important step in that direction.
It is a fairer system. As I said, Devon now receives the same level of funding per head of population as Brussels and inner London while Cornwall is entitled to the same funding formula as regions in Bulgaria, Romania and southern Greece.
The current system also has safety nets in place to assist regions which have improved their GDP sufficiently to move out of the highest level of support.
Whilst I recognise that regions in this position need extra support to help continue their upward progression, I would like to see all regions with similar GDP grouped together and treated similarly, regardless of their previous status.
I firmly believe that regional policy needs to work for all regions. It is only right that the highest level of support should target the very poorest regions in Europe.
But it is equally important that this does not have a negative impact on areas which are only just above the threshold, particularly when they border a less developed area.
The new category will introduce a more targeted system of funding and help to overcome the "cliff-edge" effect where there is a sudden difference in levels of support at administrative boundaries, such as the River Tamar.
It would also allow more flexibility. There is clear potential for transition regions to have greater freedom in how funding is used.
In Devon, where the county council has aligned many of its economic objectives with those of the Local Enterprise Partnership, greater flexibility in the use of EU funding would allow us to target investment on our local priorities and to support the private sector in delivering sustainable high-value added growth through investment in infrastructure and skills.
The new system would also require lower levels of match funding. The EU is proposing a higher grant rate of 60% for projects – as against the usual 50%. That would obviously reduce the requirement for match funding from national and local sources, helping to stimulate growth and jobs.
As well as Devon, ten other UK regions qualify for the new transition status.
That's more than any other EU country which makes the UK one of the main beneficiaries from this proposal.
For all these reasons I believe every Devon MP – no matter which party – should strongly back these proposals and get behind our campaign.