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Last Updated: Monday, 16 February, 2004, 07:04 GMT
Cornwall awaits upturn
The effect of the Eden Project had not been felt in 2001
Cornwall's economic growth has continued to fall behind the rest Europe, even after Objective One funding was supposed to kick start a recovery, figures reveal.

Cornwall gained European Objective One status in 1999 after the county's official measure of prosperity - known as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - was shown to be below the trigger level of 75% of the EU average.

In fact, it was well below that trigger level at 65%, but figures due to be published later this week show that a year after the European cash started to flow, Cornwall's GDP continued to decline.

The Objective One Partnership says the figures were taken far too early for the grants to have any real impact, and do not take into account money spent since the end of 2001.

March 1999, Cornwall & Scilly designated as an Objective One region
Criteria: Gross Domestic Product per head of population, was below the threshold of 75% of the European average
300m in European funding available, to be matched by UK funding
By the end of 2001, the count's GDP was down to just 60%.

However, Karleen Kelemen, director of the Objective One Partnership, said: "These figures do not mean that Cornwall's economy is declining or that it is in depression.

"What they indicate is that, relative to the performance of the rest of Europe, Cornwall's economy did not grow as fast in 2001 as it did in 2000.

"We should also bear in mind that EU averages are distorted by other very high performing areas of Europe, such as Madrid, which has seen enormous growth."

She said there were a number of possible reasons for the apparent drop, including the impact of the foot-and-mouth epidemic in 2001.

There had also been a number of key developments in Cornwall since 2001, including the start flights by airline Ryanair at Newquay Airport.

The Eden Project, which brings in millions into the Cornish economy, had also been open for only nine months by the end of 2001.

The Objective One Partnership had spent only 7.6m in 2001, compared with almost 100m now.

Ms Kelemen said: "The benefits of Objective One were not felt in 2001, and because of the long-term nature of the programme, their full impact is unlikely to be felt until at least 2010.

"Cornwall is only three years into what must be seen as a long-term investment programme, so we should not seize on historic data, some of it three years old, and interpret it as indicative of decline."

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