6 reasons why Cardiff needs the EU

We don’t get political very often over here at We Are Cardiff. But with the total fucking omnishambles of the latest EU debates, and all the misinformation being bandied around by the big media outlets, we thought we’d stick our oar in.

Some people think that the UK would have more money if we left the EU. But we think that financial support and opportunities available to people in Cardiff as a result of being in EU (some direct but many indirect) is a net benefit to the city by miles.

When you’re deciding how to vote on 23 June, bear some things in mind:

  • Some programmes are funded by the EU but badly managed/delivered by the UK government, Welsh government or local councils – don’t blame the EU for a local political issue;
  • Recent research has estimated that Wales’ net benefit from the EU budget is around £79 per head;
  • Wales doesn’t fully exploit the opportunities available to it through the EU – the conclusion of an Assembly committee inquiry – there’s so much more to gain;
  • Don’t underestimate the value of the EU to your everyday life; just because there isn’t an EU logo on it, doesn’t mean it hasn’t contributed in some way;
  • It’s massive, it’s complex and it has flaws – but spend some time considering whether it’s worth throwing the baby out with the bathwater before you vote to leave, or not to vote at all.

To help you decide, we thought that we’d try and illustrate how Cardiff as a city has benefitted from the EU through some specific examples, from life-saving cancer research to job creation, and from arts funding to regeneration:

  1. Our arts scene is more vibrant

Chapter Arts Centre is one of Europe’s largest and most dynamic arts centres. And it couldn’t offer everything it does without EU funding. It gets regular funding  from the EU for its activities, specific cultural funding for dance, it’s a member of the EU-supported Europa cinemas network.

The incredible Welsh TV drama Hinterland/Y Gwyll wouldn’t have been made without EU funding. Fiction Factory Films, based in Cardiff Bay, received development funding of €45,000 during script development, and then €500,000 under the television broadcast scheme for the production of the first series.

  1. The learning and work opportunities available to people in Cardiff are broader

Jobs Growth Wales was funded with £25million of EU money, and helped create nearly 2,500 jobs in Cardiff.  And 2,130 people from Cardiff have benefited from an EU-funded apprenticeship.

The ERASMUS+ exchange programme allows students and staff of Cardiff universities to study at European universities. It’s a fantastic opportunity that helps students improve their chances of employment. Over 300 Cardiff University students went on ERASMUS exchange in 2013-14.

Projects such as the 20 Twenty Leadership Programme (sponsored by Cardiff Met) helped leaders of small and medium sized businesses improve productivity, adaptability and diversity. The gender equality organization Chwarae Teg has been supporting women to advance their careers in Cardiff with the help of EU funds for years.

  1. Our research and innovation are world-leading and saves lives

 Cardiff University’s Brain Research Imaging Centre was opened by the Queen last week. It has been called the “most significant advance in brain imaging in Europe in the last 10 years”.

The Maindy Park building brings together four hi-tech scanners under one roof. One of them, described as the “Hubble space telescope of neuroscience”, and is the first outside the United States. The centre is the biggest of its kind in Europe and one of the best equipped in the world. The £44 million facility received £4.5million of its funding from the EU.

Through the EU’s Horizon 2020 support, TrakCel Ltd in Cardiff is working with international partners to develop cell therapy technology that could change the way cancer is treated. It received £315,000 from the EU.

 Cardiff Metropolitan University has seen a significant increase in bidding activity for European funding, which supports world-leading research and development in design, advanced materials and sustainability. 

  1. Our tourism is boosted, and our environment is protected

The Wales Coastal Path – a 870 mile footpath that runs through Cardiff and around the whole of Wales-  was supported by £3.9 million of EU funds over three years. We are the first country in the world to provide such a path, and the Lonely Planet voted our coastline the best on earth.

EU funds help our city to reduce dependency on fossil fuel. Research and development into low carbon energy by the Low Carbon Research Institute, made up of Welsh universities (including Cardiff), has been funded by various EU schemes.

The National Cycle Network in Wales has received EU funding to bring new routes to people in Cardiff. 1,200 wonderful miles of the Network carried 29 million walking and cycling trips in 2011 alone.

  1. Our businesses are growing

The European Investment Bank recently confirmed £110 million of funding for the Cardiff Energy Recovery Facility. The ERF treats waste from local authorities and local businesses and diverts at least 95% of non-recyclable waste in South Wales away from landfill and generates 30MW of electricity for the national grid, enough to power around 50,000 households.

Other Cardiff companies such as Cleartech Live and Net Consulting also received funding through Finance Wales from the EU.

The Centre of Excellence in Mobile Applications and Services (CEMAS) at the University of South Wales EU funds. It supported small and medium sized businesses by helping them to develop, test and find a route to market for their mobile application products.

The Wales Co-operative Centre is not-for-profit co-operative development agency, which received nearly £1million of EU funds in 2014 to support social enterprises. Our project the We Are Cardiff Press received advice and support from the Centre to establish a non-profit publishing house to showcase writing and art in Cardiff.

  1. Our poorest communities are supported and regenerated

 The Butetown Regneration Scheme received £2 million of EU funds. It provided: a youth centre on Dumballs Road, a new Community Centre on the site of the existing centre on Canal Park, Butetown Employment and Training Centre (BEST), improvements to the Christina Street area and Better Buildings For Butetown Grant Scheme.

Cardiff Council’s EU-funded NOVUS scheme has helped over 700 unemployed people, particularly parents, back into work or learning. New programmes such as Comunities4Work, Parents, Childcare and Employment (PACE) and Healthy Working Wales have all had funding approved, and will help people in Cardiff get jobs, more money and better skills.


Not mentioned here are the rights of workers, the number of skilled EU citizens that we rely on in our hospitals (and everywhere else), the increased opportunities for trade,  safety and peace, travel, equality and non-discrimination, political clout around the world……

Jeez, that’s a whole other article.

Get engaged, people of Cardiff! You have the chance to vote on the most important political and economic decision of our lifetime – make it count, be informed.


*** We’ve tried our very best to research this piece in depth but if you spot any errors, or you want to argue with our assertions, just write a comment below.
As always, we are open to reasonable debate, just don’t be a dick and shout at us without basis. ***

17 thoughts on “6 reasons why Cardiff needs the EU”

  1. All very nice for the residents of Cardiff and nearby, but just emember one thing: there is NO SUCH THING AS EU MONEY! It’s all contributors’ money and tariffs on imports to the EU. Whilst the UK as a whole remains a nett contributor to the EU we will always be throwing money away with no say on how any of it is spent. After Brexit, the UK governments will be able to fund all those things and more besides if our elected representatives choose on our behalf to do so. Why vote to be ruled by a faceless and unaccountable foreign committee writing their own excessive paychecks?


    1. Hi Richard- thanks for your comment, and thank you for telling us your view in a non-shouty and reasoned manner!
      I totally get the argument about it seeming like a distant institution, but in our opinion the money gets used and distributed at a local level for really positive things.
      I totally agree that there needs to be reform, but personally not convinced that dumping the entire thing is better than pursuing change from the inside.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. “After Brexit, the UK governments will be able to fund all those things and more besides if our elected representatives choose on our behalf to do so”

      That’s a BIG “if”.

      Over recent decades, the former industrial heartlands (out of sight of the South East of England) have come way down the pecking order, especially when there are so many taxpayers to bribe before elections.

      Whatever party that arises out of a post-Brexit Tory party and UKIP isn’t going to be pretty. With the backing of right-wing billionaire funded media and an emasculated BBC, they’ll have free rein for a couple of election cycles at least, and there’s going to be very little to distinguish between them and “a faceless and unaccountable foreign committee writing their own excessive paychecks”.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. But at least domestic governments of all colours can be held accountable at the ballot box. The EU commission is accountable to no-one! Even the European Parliament is a toothless talking shop designed to give the impression of democracy only. For many years I held the view it was better to work for reform from the inside, but Mr Cameron’s recent failure to obtain any worthwhile progress has confirmed that is hopeless.


      2. I take your point, Richard, but your two points are a bit contradictory. You want to return power to the UK Government/Parliament, which you don’t trust to make fair decisions?
        And the European Parliament is democratic – we elect MEPs every five years! A lack of public engagement with the election process and powers of the body are separate issue to the referendum, in my opinion.
        And the UK Parliament has engagement and democratic problems of its own – I hope that whatever happens after the 23rd, people are are passionate about domestic democratic change too.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Where’s your proof and where are your facts on these figures? Also pretty sure they said no shouting so your argument is invalid.


    1. Hi Sion- thanks for your comment. All the sources for the figures are in the hyperlinks in the article.
      Also, it’s our blog- we can tell anyone not to shout at us 🙂


  3. 1) The arts scene will continue post Brexit.
    2) The finances posted above are misleading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtRFO3kvL8k
    3) International development and cooperation would continue post Brexit.
    4) Funny. We go to other countries on holiday and don’t have to be part of political union.
    Ever been to London? How many holiday makers are from the EU? 20%-30%?!
    5) Businesses would continue to grow post Brexit with Globalisation and Commonwealth reconnect.
    6) There is that economic fib again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtRFO3kvL8k


  4. Well said Thomas! Don’t forget the creeping federalism which is bound to accelerate following a remain vote. Also total lack of financial accountability, personal profligacy by officials which would be classed as fraud anywhere else, and ludicrously high salaries and expenses claimed by those at the top. Look at the Kinnocks as an example!


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