EU Structural Funding

February 26th, 2015 by James Goudie KC

The Supreme Court has, dismissing the appeal, found by a 4-3 majority in R (Rotherham MBC) v Secretary of State for Business (2015) UKSC 6 that decisions made by the SoS concerning the allocation of EU Structural Funding between UK Regions were not unlawful.  Lord Sumption and Lord Neuberger both gave reasoned Judgments for the majority.

Lord Sumption notes that the allocation made by the SoS is amenable to judicial review, but a Court should be cautious about intervening, because it: (i) was a discretionary decision of a kind Courts have traditionally been reluctant to disturb; (ii) involved particularly delicate questions about the distribution of finite domestic and EU resources, in which the legitimacy of the decision-making process depends to a high degree on Ministers’ political accountability; and (iii) has been approved by the EU Commission.  Lord Neuberger agrees that this is “classic territory” where executive decisions should be afforded a wide margin of discretion, but emphasises that the fact that a matter is one for democratic decision does not remove the need for judicial oversight.

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