Welsh Conservatives in the European Parliament
Dr Kay Swinburne MEP

Securing more European funding for Welsh Universities - Dr Kay Swinburne MEP, Western Mail, 05.12.13

I have never been in any doubt that in Wales we have an abundance of scientific talent and the ability to match the rest of the UK for excellence in every research field. Yet, we are often criticised for our inability to access research funding to develop this talent. It is true that whilst it continues to be the case that Wales secures less UK Research Council funding relative to England and Scotland for our population size, we aren't fully capitalising on the scientific capacity we have at our disposal- and so we need to do better.

However, as a Member of the European Parliament for Wales, my attention goes beyond our UK resources to what Wales can draw from its participation in the different EU funding pools.

For 2007-2013, the EU allocated approximately €53.2 billion to the funding of research and innovation (R&I) via its Framework Programme 7 (FP7) initiative. However, I have been concerned for many years that the message about the availability of this research funding and the researchers of Wales' entitlement to apply for it, is not being communicated effectively. The statistics on Wales' engagement with EU research funding reflects this problem. Between 2002-2006; whilst the FP6 research initiative worth around €17.5 billion was operating, the proportion of research funding drawn down from EU sources by Wales accounted for only around 2% of the funding drawn down by the UK as a whole. An alarmingly low figure and one acknowledged as disappointing by both Welsh institutions and the Welsh Government.
However, despite past poor performances, I have been delighted to see that our researchers in Wales have now started to secure significant EU research funding.

During the second half of this current FP7 period in particular, Welsh researchers have gained momentum, securing a real rise in participation levels for Wales in EU research projects. A significant increase in the amount of EU research funding has been captured by Wales, when compared with FP6. By October 2012 Wales had amassed approximately €98 million in FP7 funding, with a year of the initiative still to run.

The need to do more

Despite this upturn in Wales's performance, I believe that we still need to do much more to shout louder and clearer about how this funding can support R&I in Wales. I recently put together a guide to EU R&I funding to raise awareness, and was pleased to see that I didn't need to just look to Oxford and Cambridge or other universities renowned for bringing home a big portion of the EU funding pie for examples of how EU research funding is being engaged with successfully. We now have a real wealth of EU supported research projects to showcase in our universities from right across Wales.

It is not only our universities who contribute to this surge in Wales's capacity to draw down EU research funding, approximately 25% of the €98m being received is used by businesses and other organisations in Wales. The progress our universities have made is particularly heartening as our institutions often do not receive the credit they deserve and there have rightly been concerns about our performance in comparison with the rest of the UK in some research fields. When it comes to accessing the EU funding streams, we should recognise that Welsh universities are now succeeding in a hugely competitive and often administratively bureaucratic application process and successfully pitching against hundreds of universities across Europe for large pots of financing.

Horizon 2020

However, now is certainly not the time to slow our progress. 2014 marks the start of the EU's new flagship Horizon 2020 programme and scientists, universities and businesses in Wales must grab the opportunity that this presents with both hands. EU funding can not only offer them the monetary prize to facilitate their projects, but also the invaluable opportunity to collaborate with universities across Europe. Once established, these ties between universities often remain and generate real opportunities to absorb a pool of new resources, ideas and skills.

We have seen our universities take huge steps in the right direction in the past few years, but I do hope from 2014 there will be an even greater desire to compete for the collaborative and financing opportunities that Horizon 2020 offers. The funding is out there, prioritised in the EU budget to boost innovation and competiveness and it is vital that we ensure as much of it as possible is flowing back to Wales to support scientific excellence .

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Welsh Conservatives

The European Commission has today designated European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status to the well-known Pembrokeshire Early Potato from West Wales.
The Pembrokeshire Early Potato was one of only three quality farm products whose applications for PGI status were approved today.
The EU PGI schemes protect product names against misuse and under these schemes more than 1200 products are already protected.
Commenting on this announcement from the European Commission today Dr Kay Swinburne MEP – who is from West Wales - said:
"I am delighted to see that this application to have "Pembrokeshire Earlies" added to the register of PGI products has been approved by the European Commission today."

"Achieving this prestigious status is a clear acknowledgment of the high-quality and distinctive produce we continue to deliver in Wales. Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes thoroughly deserve their place alongside the well-known food and drink products from right across the EU which already feature on the PGI register."


Kay was delighted to host an event to celebrate Higher Education, Science and Innovation in Wales last night in the European Parliament.  The event builds on the British Council’s “Strategic Analysis of the Welsh Higher Education Sector, Distinctive Assets”.  A number of experts spoke to share their views of Welsh HE at the event and how it can develop in the future.

In advance of the 'Fox-Hafner Report' vote on the single seat for the European Parliament, Kay and the other UK Conservative MEPs feel it is right to draw attention to the fact that the seven-year cost of the dual-seat arrangement comes to £928,000,000. Since her election to the European Parliament in 2009, Kay has strongly supported bringing the monthly Parliamentary meetings in Strasbourg to an end and therefore saving taxpayers a considerable sum of money.


Kay was delighted to meet Malala Yousafzai, who was awarded the EU's Sakharov Human Rights Prize at the European Parliament today.

Following Malala’s speech to the European Parliament, Kay said, “What an inspirational speech Malala gave to the Members of the European Parliament today. As a mother of young children myself, I hope that they can also aspire to achieve like her. Malala is an exceptional young lady who has overcome adversity by tremendous force of character and a passionate belief in the right of everybody to enjoy and benefit from education.”   


Kay was very pleased to meet with members of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Group at the European Parliament in Brussels, one of four groups set up in key Welsh research strengths to engage with EU research funds. The delegation visiting Brussels included representatives from Cardiff University, Bangor University, Swansea University and Trinity St.Davids University.

In advance of tomorrow's European Council meeting of leaders, Dr Swinburne has echoed the recommendations made in a recent report published by a number of business leaders, which highlights the importance of removing barriers to business competitiveness in Europe and getting rid of burdensome legislation by cutting EU red tape.

Last year Dr Swinburne encouraged businesses in Wales to highlight to the European Commission which over-burdensome regulations they would like to see slashed, by writing to small businesses all over Wales and asking them to tell her their red-tape problems.

Electronic cigarettes no longer face being taken off the shelves by the EU after Conservative MEPs were successful today in amending EU legislation on tobacco labelling.

Conservative MEP's led the amendment to defeat proposals that would have classified e-cigarettes as medicinal products, meaning they would have to undergo an overly burdensome and costly authorisation procedure, which would go beyond the procedures for traditional tobacco products... (Read more under 'Articles')



Welsh Conservative MEP Kay Swinburne has been sitting down with leaders in Europe's biotech field to choose the top five candidates to compete in this year's EuropaBio Most Innovative EU Biotech SME Award.

As a member of this year's judging committee, Kay is once again supporting the EuropaBio award, which has attracted applications from all three sectors of biotechnology - healthcare, industrial and agricultural, from across the EU... (Read more under 'Articles')


WELSH Conservative MEP Dr Kay Swinburne today hailed a vote in the European Parliament as a "wake-up call" in the battle to save Europe's endangered languages.

MEPs meeting in Strasbourg backed a report which calls on governments across the EU to develop action plans to encourage continued linguistic diversity.

The report, written by Corsican MEP François Alfonsi, also says governments should be "more attentive" to threats which may lead to languages becoming extinct.

Dr Swinburne, who was a shadow rapporteur for the report, has argued that Welsh can be seen as a positive example of language revitalisation which communities across the EU should follow... (Read more under 'Articles')

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