ABSTRACT

Prior to local government reorganisation in Wales in April 1996, Gwynedd covered an area of over 3,700 km2, and had a population of 235,452 (1991 figures). Located in the north-west area of Wales, Gwynedd comprises a maritime border of the North Wales coast and tourist resorts and the Lleyn peninsula, and a sensitive landscape environment; within its area lies the Snowdonia National Park. The county is a very rural area and contains some of the most rural districts in England and Wales. As a consequence, the county suffers from low levels of socio-economic development, low levels of agricultural income, sparsity of population and high dependence on a few sectors of the economy for employment, such as agriculture, the slate and extraction industries, and energy production. This is offset to a degree by tourism promotion and income. In response to these factors, Gwynedd has received large Structural Fund allocations, in the form of the Rural Wales Objective 5b programme and funding from LEADER, INTERREG and PACTE Community initiatives. Following local government reorganisation, the county became a unitary shire and the geographical area over which the authority has responsibility was reduced in size. In 1996 the new County of Gwynedd area possessed a population of 118,000. This chapter considers the organisational structure of the County Council to address European issues, and goes on to consider transnational cooperation between Gwynedd and other member states. Attention is focused on three main areas: the influence of Europe on development plans; the influence of Europe on development control issues; and the attraction of Structural Fund assistance.