Our Star's Tour of Wales

Did you know that Wales was one of the largest recipients of EU Structural Funds in Britain, receiving £2.1billion between 2014 and 2020? Yet with the exception of five Counties, most areas in Wales voted to Leave the EU in 2016.  Why??? It cannot be due to lack of awareness – the EU logo has been highly visible throughout West Wales and the Valleys for decades. We recently took the Small Star on a tour of key areas to see how many of these logos remain visible - and had more than enough to photograph!!

Wales became eligible for ERDF and ESF as soon as these funds were created in 1975; both funds were established to respond to economic decline, and the UK (as well as Italy) were major recipients from the outset. This enabled investment in building industrial estates and re-training the workforce. We were pleasantly surprised to see some early ERDF projects still displaying the EU logo (photo 1). Significant investment has gone into areas that have lost traditional industry, such as Ebbw Vale Steelworks site (photo a)

It was between 2000-2006 that Wales first became eligible for significant EU Structural Funds with the allocation of Objective 1 status for West Wales and the Valleys, and later EU Convergence Funding We were pleasantly surprised to see that suitable plaques were still visible for the full range of funding – ERDF, ESF and also EAGGF, as well as some of the smaller Funds.

We expected to see ERDF plaques – this fund was used to support large and small infrastructure projects, such as road schemes (photo 2), infrastructure projects (photo 3) and industrial development (photo 4). ERDF also funded training infrastructure (photos 5 and 6) as well as tourism projects (photos 7, 8a, 8b, 8c). 

Possibly the most strategic investment in Wales in recent years has been in rail infrastructure (photos 9, 10, 11), with many of these projects approved in the last round of EU funding 2014-2020 included significant investment across the Valleys (Table 1). Broadband connectivity across West Wales and the Valleys has also been a major recipient of ERDF over many years – have a look at the BT boxes in your areas (photo 12).

Project Name

Project Description

Amount of EU Funding

Metro Phase 1 Llandaf North and Radyr Station Improvements

Station and parking improvements at Llandaf and Radyr stations improving the attractiveness of rail travel in the Cardiff area as part of phase 1 of the South Wales Metro scheme

£       1,313,073 


Metro Phase 2 Cardiff Bay East Wales

Twin tracking to Cardiff Bay and a new station at Loudon Square.

£     13,033,741 


East Wales Station Improvements Metro Phase 2


Platform adjustments to enable a faster and more accessible public transport service along the Core Valleys lines south of Taff’s Well and Caerphilly and the Coryton line.

£     12,013,890 


Queen Street Track Remodelling Metro Phase 2


Infrastructure improvements, new track and signalling to the lines around Queen Street Cardiff to enable an increased frequency of services and direct services from the Core Valleys Lines to Cardiff Bay. 

£       5,016,227 


Metro Phase 2 – Aberdare line


Transforming the Valley Lines rail network to provide a faster and more frequent service for the heads of the valleys stations and a direct connection to Cardiff Bay. Stations will be modernised and infrastructure will be improved to double of the number of trains to the heads of the valleys stations. 


£     26,713,528 


Metro Phase 2 – Merthyr line


£     28,827,210 


Metro Phase 2 – Rhymney line


£     19,458,545 


Metro Phase 2 – Treherbert line


£     27,399,776 


Metro Phase 2 – Taff’s Well depot 


£     27,307,959 


Table 1: Rail Infrastructure projects funded by EU Structural Funds 2014-20

We also saw EU logos at a number of community facilities, such as at Maesteg Town Hall (photo x), Porthcawl (photo y) and Llanhilleth (photo z).

Cardiff, Newport, Wrexham (as well as Flint, Powys and Monmouthshire) weren’t eligible for the highest level of EU funding, though were eligible for some funding through the Regional, Competitiveness and Employment Programme. We were therefore pleasantly surprised to find that Cardiff University has benefitted from funding for major developments, such as CUBRIC (photo 13) – see Table 2.

Project Name

Project Description

Amount of EU Funding



World leading energy research scheme, involving collaborations with industry and research organisations in Wales, Europe and worldwide. The scheme investigates how multiple energy sources can be supplied to consumers through more flexible and efficient systems that integrate traditional and renewable energy sources

£       6,631,947 


Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre  II (CUBRIC II)


CUBRIC II is the relocation, expansion and development of the existing Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre thus enabling an increase in its world class research capacity and facilities.

£       4,578,474 


Supercomputing Wales East Wales


Pioneering cutting edge research within Welsh universities using supercomputing facilities on a scale not currently available to deliver world class expertise to boost the Welsh economy.

£       5,414,717 


Institute for Compound Semiconductor 


Build, equip and run a state-of-the-art cleanroom at the new Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) along with skilled personnel to deliver the research support for the development of new products, processes and services.

£     13,145,631 


Data Innovation Accelorator 


Data science and analytics collaboration between SMEs and Cardiff University to  develop and grow business. Companies specialising in ICT and cyber security, advanced materials, energy and eco-innovation.

£       1,805,380 


Cardiff Catalysis Institute - Electron Microscopy Facility


A world-class facility to underpin delivery of large-scale research grant programmes in catalysis research, aid retention and recruitment of staff and students of international standing, drive new research-led discoveries with a wide range of industrial low-carbon transition applications, and consolidate and expand collaborations with academic and industry partners across the world.

£       3,655,865 


Magnetic Materials & Applications (MAGMA)


The operation aims to establish a world class research capability which builds on expertise in the processing, characterisation, manufacturing and recycling of these specialist materials to optimise the whole life-cycle and supply chain of electromagnetic applications. 

£          897,085 


Cardiff Centre for AI Robotics and Human Machine Sustems (IROHMS)


The Centre will consolidate and build on the currently dispersed research capacity bringing together critical mass of international and UK researchers and state of the art facilities that directly targets new opportunities in AI Robotics and HMS with applications in high value digital manufacturing and healthcare. 

£       3,160,856 


Table 2: Funding for Welsh Universities 2014-20

The European Social Fund has trained and supported thousands of individuals in Wales since 1975 – from high-level skills to support for those who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).  We didn’t expect to see many ESF logos since the funds were revenue rather than capital; we were therefore pleasantly surprised to see some ESF logos (photos 14, 15, 16). 

We even spotted some EAGGF logos, which was surprising for South Wales. Whilst most EAGGF was allocated to support farming, a small amount was allocated to Rural Development, and some of the South Wales valleys were eligible for small amounts of funding, depending on the proportion of farms within their areas. Funds were allocated to countryside schemes, and we saw a few examples of how this was used (photos 17a, 17b 18, 19). Some of these schemes have provided important facilities for local communities – for example, Parc Penallta in Caerphilly is a vital community facility, providing a range of walking trails, paths that are used for running and cycling, along with fishing ponds and an educational facility. 

When the Objective 1 programme was established in Wales in 2000, the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) was established and placed a much stronger emphasis than in previous years on guidance to publicise projects in receipt of EU funding. The first ever Objective 1 plaque was unveiled at Tredomen Business and Technology Centre in 2003 by Michel Barnier, who at that time was Director General for Regional Policy at the European Commission (photo 20 a). We were pleasantly surprised to find that the original plaque still has pride of place at the entrace of the building – faded from blue to purple, but still clearly on display (photo 20b).

On Saturday October 28th, 2023, Swansea for Europe activists took the junior star to visit 4 out of the many EU funded sites in Swansea.  All of them demonstrate the importance of this funding to the economic, structural, educational, cultural and community development of Swansea.   Stand out moments were meeting with students and lecturers at the fantastic Swansea University Bay Campus who showed us the blue plaques on the campus, having a cuppa and sandwich at the vibrant community café in the Phoenix Centre Townhill and the Science Fare that was in process at the National Waterfront Museum.  Hits the nail on the head and hammers it home! Equally important to Swansea is Swansea High Street Railway station intermodal transport interchange.

Our Star (the big Star!) was only able to visit Cardiff on its tour of the UK, with the Small Star visiting Port Talbot, Bridgend, Swansea, Pontypridd, Merthyr Tydfil, Ebbw Vale and Caerphilly. There are many more areas that benefited from EU funding in Wales – North Wales, mid Wales, West Wales, and Wales for Europe Branches in these areas hope to receive a visit by the small Star during 2024 so that they too can highlight the contribution made by the EU to funding projects in their areas over many, many years.

If you would like to host the small Star to highlight EU funded projects in your area, please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected]. You can find a wealth of information about projects funded on Welsh Government’s web-site at 39856 International Strategy (gov.wales




39856 International Strategy (gov.wales)

 2 Of the 22 Counties in Wales, only five voted to Remain at the 2016 Referendum – Ceredigion and Gwynedd (both recipients of EU Structural Funds), Cardiff, Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan.

3 Two thirds of Structural Funds were allocated to regions whose GDP was less than 75% of EU average – other eligible areas in the UK were Merseyside, South Yorkshire and Cornwall.

4 In addition to the main Structural Funds, Wales also benefitted from URBAN, LEADER, EQUAL and INTERREG.

5 List of EU Structural Fund projects in Wales EU Structural Funds programme: approved projects | GOV.WALES




Wales for Europe's statement about the new Windsor Framework - Datganiad Cymru dros Ewrop am Fframwaith newydd Windsor

Wales for Europe is cautiously optimistic to see the Windsor Framework that has just been announced between Britain and the EU, and we are seeing a more positive and collaborative approach in discussions between the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the UK's Prime Minister - Rishi Sunak. As we wait for more details and for this plan to come to fruition, this all looks promising.

The pro-Europe movement in Wales and the UK has made it clear - a trade war with our neighbours in the European Union would be extremely damaging. Tens of thousands of people expressed their concerns about this through European Movement UK’s successful petition.

While further negotiations continue, and although Brexit will still cause serious economic and social damage to Britain, Wales for Europe hopes that the Windsor Framework marks a significant change of direction, not only to reduce trade barriers for businesses in the UK, and to foster a better relationship between Britain and the European Union, but also to ensure that all four countries, including Wales, have a voice and representation in the negotiations, so that we can all work to reduce the damage as a result of Brexit.

We believe this doesn’t go far enough. First, the new framework does not facilitate the onward traffic of goods to Northern Ireland from the UK via Welsh ports and the Republic of Ireland. Second, there are some crucial next steps to improve cooperation between the 4 UK nations and the European Union. Most notably, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill needs to be scrapped. It is divisive, and an attack on the protections and regulations for the environment, workers’ rights and food standards.

When Rishi Sunak travelled to Northern Ireland to sell the Windsor Framework, he emphasised Northern Ireland's 'special position' for having both UK and European Single Market access. If this significantly benefits Northern Ireland, then why can't Wales, or indeed the whole United Kingdom, have access to the European Union's Single Market as well? 

Wales for Europe will continue to pursue our campaign by working with all political parties, and likeminded organisations.

Mae Cymru dros Ewrop yn obeithiol -tra’n aros yn wyliadwrus- ar ôl gweld Fframwaith Windsor sydd newydd gael ei gyhoeddi rhwng Prydain a’r UE, ac rydym yn gweld agwedd fwy cadarnhaol a chydweithredol mewn trafodaethau rhwng Llywydd y Comisiwn Ewropeaidd, Ursula von der Leyen, a Phrif Weinidog y DU - Rishi Sunak. Wrth i ni aros am ragor o fanylion ac i’r cynllun hwn ddwyn ffrwyth, mae hyn oll yn edrych yn addawol.

Mae’r mudiad dros Ewrop yng Nghymru a’r DU wedi ei gwneud hi’n glir - byddai rhyfel masnach gyda’n cymdogion yn yr Undeb Ewropeaidd yn hynod niweidiol. Mynegodd degau o filoedd o bobl eu pryderon am hyn drwy ddeiseb lwyddiannus Mudiad Ewropeaidd y DU.

Tra bod trafodaethau pellach yn parhau, ac er y bydd Brexit yn dal i achosi niwed economaidd a chymdeithasol difrifol i Brydain, mae Cymru dros Ewrop yn gobeithio y bydd Fframwaith Windsor yn nodi newid cyfeiriad sylweddol, nid yn unig i leihau rhwystrau masnach i fusnesau yn y DU, ac i feithrin gwell perthynas rhwng Prydain a’r Undeb Ewropeaidd, ond hefyd i sicrhau bod gan bob un o’r pedair gwlad, gan gynnwys Cymru, lais a chynrychiolaeth yn y trafodaethau, fel y gallwn oll weithio i leihau’r difrod o ganlyniad i Brexit.

Credwn nad yw hyn yn mynd yn ddigon pell. Yn gyntaf, nid yw’r fframwaith newydd yn hwyluso’r broses o symud nwyddau ymlaen i Ogledd Iwerddon o’r DU drwy borthladdoedd Cymru a Gweriniaeth Iwerddon. Yn ail, mae angen rhai camau hollbwysig i ddilyn i wella cydweithrediad rhwng pedair gwlad y DU a’r Undeb Ewropeaidd. Yn fwyaf amlwg, mae angen dileu Bil Cyfraith yr UE a Ddargedwir (Dirymu a Diwygio). Mae’n ymrannol, ac yn ymosodiad ar yr amddiffyniadau a’r rheoliadau ar gyfer yr amgylchedd, hawliau gweithwyr a safonau bwyd.

Pan deithiodd Rishi Sunak i Ogledd Iwerddon i werthu Fframwaith Windsor, pwysleisiodd 'safle arbennig' Gogledd Iwerddon o ran cael mynediad i Farchnad Sengl y DU ac Ewrop. Os yw hyn o fudd sylweddol i Ogledd Iwerddon, yna pam na all Cymru, neu’n wir y Deyrnas Unedig gyfan, gael mynediad at Farchnad Sengl yr Undeb Ewropeaidd hefyd?

Bydd Cymru dros Ewrop yn  parhau i ymgyrchu a chydweithio gyda phob plaid wleidyddol a sefydliad sy’n rhannu’r un farn.



European Movement UK is seeking a new Chair!

The mission of the European Movement is to campaign step by step towards rejoining the EU. We’re looking for a dynamic and committed person to lead our organisation –the largest cross-party, pro-European membership organisation in the UK, with 200,000 supporters, over 100 branches, and more than 16,000 members.

The successful candidate, to be chosen by the EMUK membership in a secret ballot, will be expected to front our step-by-step campaign towards rejoining the EU and help grow our membership and reach in a watershed period for UK relations with Europe.

They will take on both a public-facing role representing the EM effectively in the media and on platforms and taking responsibility for the Movement’s internal governance and strategy.  EM is committed to equality and would welcome candidates from diverse backgrounds. 

For more details about the role, which is to be undertaken without remuneration, please contact: Emma Knaggs ([email protected]). The closing date for nominations is 6th February.

Emma Knaggs

Head of Grassroots Engagement