Minister Howlin signs €800 million programmes in Brussels

Issued 24 February 2015

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr Brendan Howlin T.D., was in Brussels today (Tuesday 24 February 2015) to meet Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cretu and to take part in the formal signing of Ireland’s operational programmes under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).  The Minister was accompanied by representatives of Ireland’s three Regional Assemblies.

Ireland will receive more than €1 billion of EU Structural Funds over the period 2014-2020. When match funding is included, total programme expenditure will amount to almost €2 billion.

Speaking in Brussels today after meeting Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cretu and taking part in the formal signing of Ireland’s operational programmes under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Minister noted:-

This funding will be used for areas such as promoting jobs and growth; combatting long-term and youth unemployment and social exclusion; promoting R&D and ICT investment and the competitiveness of the business sector; and promoting an environmentally-friendly and resource efficient economy. These are all priorities that are closely aligned with the Government’s overall focus on jobs and growth. 

In the context of the 2013 agreement on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which was reached under the Irish Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Government was successful in securing €1.2 billion of Cohesion policy funding for the period 2014-2020.   This represents an increase of 8% in real terms over the 2007-2013 programming period, at a time when the overall EU budget for Cohesion policy was cut by 8%. 

This funding will be delivered through the ERDF Operational Programmes signed today as well as through a national programme under the European Social Fund (ESF) and European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes in which Ireland takes party, most notably the North South PEACE Programme.  The programmes signed today have a total value of €409 million of EU funding, or €818 million when match funding is taken into account.

The Minister said he was pleased that the Government had been successful in negotiating two special allocations for Ireland:

  •  €100 million (2011 prices) for the Border, Midland and Western (BMW) Region, in recognition that it is now classified by the EU as a more developed region; and
  •  €150 million (2011 prices) towards a new Northern Ireland PEACE programme.

I am particularly pleased that it was possible to agree funding for a new PEACE Programme for the border counties of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  The Programme continues to play an important role in reinforcing progress towards a peaceful and stable society and in promoting reconciliation.  The European Union has always been a strong supporter of the peace process and the PEACE Programme provides real evidence of that support.

Ireland has also secured €2.2 billion from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Fund (EAFRD) and €148 million from the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF), bringing total EU funding from the European Structural & Investment Funds to €3.4 billion over the period 2014-2020.