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Commissioner Hahn pays tribute to Bruce Millan, Former Commissioner for Regional Policy

(26 February 2013)

Commissioner Hahn pays tribute to Bruce Millan, Former Commissioner for Regional Policy

"I am proud to have followed in the footsteps of  Bruce Millan,  the former UK  (Scottish by birth )  European Commissioner for Regional and Cohesion Policy who sadly died last week.  He was clearly a forerunner in giving regional policy the prominence it has today and in establishing the  concept of a "Europe of regions".

I did not know him personally, but those in my services who did, describe him as old-school politician in the best sense of the term. He believed that a successful political representative must also be a good manager with the overriding obligation to ensure that public resources are used efficiently for the public good. I am told that he could exasperate his services in the Directorate General for Regional Policy with his attention to detail, and there could be serious consequences when the figures did not add up! But in fact this only increased their respect for him.   

Many have said how ideally suited to the European regional policy portfolio he was. His attention to detail was underpinned by a great deal of sensitivity to the regional problems of unemployment in an era when Europe was going through major job losses in its traditional industries. Former colleagues remember him as not at all a "home-player". He was as strict, and as fair, in his treatment of UK regional issues. Those were the days when the list of regions eligible for support because of industrial decline was heavily determined by decisions taken in Brussels, and by the regional policy Commissioner.

Bruce Millan was every bit as rigorous in his analysis of UK regions as any other Member State. Those in my services who worked with him say they spent four hours or more discussing with him the merits of individual regional cases. In this work, they say, he demonstrated that he was a great European.  I myself am also grateful for this dedication. It has  helped  forge the  policy for cohesion and investment that we have today -  with which we can improve the lives of  people in the regions and help put Europe firmly on the path to recovery.