Penguins, beer and economic development…

Professor Paul Hare from our Accountancy, Economics & Finance Department spent two weeks in July in the Falkland Islands, working on a project for the EU concerned with evaluating the last two aid programmes in the Falklands funded by the EU. He writes for us below about his time there.

The EU aid programmes are referred to as EDF9 and EDF10, EDF meaning ‘European Development Fund’; the programmes ran from about 2006 through to 2017, the first emphasising projects and activities to do with trade development, the second being more about economic diversification. Each programme supported a number of small sub-projects, and provided the Falklands with roughly 1 million euros per annum. Programmes like this have operated in all the eligible overseas territories of EU member states, so when the UK leaves the EU, our overseas territories (OTs) will no longer be eligible for such payments. Indeed the Foreign Office is actively engaged in reviewing how our OTs might be affected by Brexit, and the Treasury has guaranteed that at least to 2020 our OTs will not lose out financially. For the Falklands, though, the more important issue is not so much the EDF funding (though the funding is always welcome), but EU market access for Falklands products; notably squid, high quality wool, and meat.

For the evaluation exercise, I interviewed a wide range of people in the Falklands, from the Governor, through officials in various government departments, several MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly), to representatives of the private sector. In addition, we have assembled relevant documents, reports and statistics. Overall, the EU funds have been used well and have delivered sustainable results. Two examples: (a) improving wool quality through selective breeding to achieve finer wool, an activity started with EU funding and continued up to the present, with very successful results; (b) supporting tourism by helping the Tourist Board develop an accommodation accreditation scheme which has foster competition, encouraged many improvements, and supported new entry into the sector.

The final report should be completed this month and will be presented in Brussels most likely in early November. We aim to come up with some recommendations that should be helpful in improving the effectiveness of these aid programmes in other territories.

Last, a few pictures to illustrate the Falklands – it’s important to remember that it’s a very small community with just over 3000 people, and with a landscape that is mostly open moorland, home to lots of sheep, as well as upland geese and several species of penguin.

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