Howlin meets European Parliament to discuss EU funding for Ireland

Issued 27 March 2014

Structural Funds to support jobs and growth agenda

Brendan Howlin TD today (26 March 2014) met a delegation from the European Parliament’s committee on Regional Development to discuss the next round of Structural Funds spending in Ireland.  Minister Howlin was accompanied by Minister of State Brian Hayes TD.

The REGI Committee is a key European Parliament Committee responsible for regional and cohesion policy, in particular the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).  At €325 billion, Structural Funds represent around one third of the EU’s budget for the next seven years. 

Minister Howlin noted that, while the overall budget for Structural Funds across Europe has been reduced by 8% in real terms, Ireland had been successful in securing an 8% increase in its allocation.  He said his officials are leading a cross-Departmental team that is developing detailed proposals for submission to the European Commission: 

“Funding from the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund will be targeted at combatting long-term and youth unemployment and social exclusion as well as promoting R&D investment and the competitiveness of the business sector and an environmentally-friendly and resource efficient economy.”

Minister Hayes said that EU funding will support the Government’s jobs and growth agenda: 

“The REGI Committee appreciates the importance of the European Structural and Investment Funds for a country like Ireland and was keen to hear how we propose to maximise the value of available funding.”

Minister Howlin said he was particularly pleased that Ireland would benefit from two special allocations under the next round - €100 million for the BMW region and €150 million towards a new Northern Ireland PEACE Programme

The Committee acknowledged the key role that Ireland had made last year, during Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of Ministers, towards brokering an agreement on the package of regulations that will govern the next round of Structural Funds across Europe: 

“I enjoyed working with the REGI Committee during our Presidency of the Council of Ministers.  The Presidency gave Ireland an opportunity to demonstrate that we are a constructive and committed Member State that belongs at the very heart of the European decision-making process.  

As a committed parliamentarian, I value the role of the European Parliament in setting the legislative framework for a wide range of key policy areas such as Cohesion policy which help to bring Europe closer to its citizens.”

The two Ministers briefed the Committee on the progress the Government is making in in repairing the economy and returning it to growth.  They discussed the contribution Structural Funds would make to that process.

The Regional Development Committee is on a three day visit to Ireland that includes visits to Waterford and Kilkenny where they will have an opportunity to see how Structural Funds have been spent on the ground.