EU Support Programmes for Irish Regions

All EU funding is channelled towards precise objectives and priorities under the various common policies, which, in turn, are based on provisions of the Treaties.

Most funding is not paid directly by the European Commission but via the national and regional authorities of the Member States. This is the case for payments under the funds which make up the Common Agricultural Policy and most payments under the Structural Funds - the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). Collectively these funds account for the majority of of EU spending.

Ireland's economic success in the late 1990s and early years of the new millennium – partly fuelled by EU structural funding  – meant that the country was no longer entitled to the same volume of EU funding as in the past. For the funding period 2007-2013, Ireland has been designated as being eligible to receive EU support for actions to reinforce the competitiveness, employmentand attractiveness prospects of its regions.

This grants Ireland Structural Funds amounting to €750.72 million for focussed investment in innovation, the promotion of entrepreneurship and environment protection in order to deliver growth and jobs, to strengthen human capital, and to ensure balanced development and the reduction of regional disparities. This is in line with the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) agreed between the government and the European Commission in 2007.

€375.36 million of this total comes from the ERDF which will finance the regional programmes (Objective 2 of the Structural Funds) for the Southern & Eastern and the Border, Midlands & Western regions. These programmes are being managed by the respective Regional Assemblies. The priorities agreed for the regional Operational Programmes are as follows:

  • Promote investment in human capital by upskilling the workforce, increasing labour market participation, and allowing groups outside the labour market to enter the workforce. The authorities will focus on women, people with disabilities, lone parents, minorities and ex-offenders. A special programme will target migrants, as they make a very significant contribution to the economy.

  • Support innovation, knowledge and entrepreneurship in the regions. The objective is to boost research and development (R&D) in areas and institutions (Institutes of Technology mainly) where this capacity has been lacking in the past. The aim is to double the number of PhD graduates during the programming period. Ireland will also continue to develop Foreign Direct Investment, one of the competitive characteristics of the economy.

  • Strengthen the competitiveness, attractiveness and connectivity of the National Spatial Strategy defined by the government, through improved access to quality infrastructure and promoting environmental and sustainable development. Gateways and hubs will connect urban areas. There will be a special focus on public transport and innovative environmental solutions.

In addition to the above, the ERDF is also supporting Irish involvement in various Objective 3 Territorial Cooperation ('Interreg') programmes to support joint socio-economic and sustainable development strategies among organisations such as local and regional authorities at cross-border (with Northern Ireland/parts of Scotland and with parts of Wales), wider transnational (North West Europe, Atlantic Area and Northern Periphery zones) and pan-European levels. These programmes are managed in Ireland by the following organisations:

INTERREG Programme
Special European Union Programmes Body Ireland - Northern Ireland - Scotland Programme
Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly
Ireland - Wales Programme
North West Europe Programme
Strand C - Interregional Programme
Border, Midland & Western Regional Assembly
Atlantic Area Programme

Northern Periphery Programme

Strand C - Interregional Programme

A national Human Capital Investment Operational Programme with a budget of €375.36 million from the ESF will also operate to support more and better jobs and greater social inclusion by enhancing workforce productivity through upskilling and increasing the participation of groups outside the workforce. This is managed by the Department of Enterpriose, Trade & Employment.

Beyond the nationally-managed Structural Funds, the EU has set aside approximately €214 billion for centrally-managed programmes in correspondence with its various common policy fields (e.g. in research, the environment, education, health, youth actions, training, consumer protection, information …). The funding is made available on a competitive basis as direct grants to beneficiaries (public or private legally constituted bodies , local and regional authorities, universities, businesses, interest groups, NGOs - and, in some exceptional cases, individuals). Details of these initiatives are available within the IRO Funding Tracker.

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The Boyne Bridge - Drogheda Bypass

The Boyne Bridge - Drogheda Bypass