Today Tuesday 29th November 2022, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath T.D. together with the Southern Regional Assembly, Northern and Western Regional Assembly and the Eastern and Midlands Regional Assembly, launched Ireland’s two ERDF Programmes for the period 2021 – 2027. Following lengthy negotiations, the EU Commission adopted the two ERDF Programmes on the 18th of November 2022.
The two ERDF Programmes set out Ireland’s investment strategy for €853 million, of which €396 million is financed by the EU. The ERDF supports Irish regions in promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion in line with key EU priorities.
The programmes will focus on three strategic outcomes:
- developing smarter more competitive regions through measures like building Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) capacity in public research institutions and by strengthening regional innovation systems in line with Ireland’s Smart Specialisation Strategy and the Regional Enterprise Plans.
- supporting actions to scale up energy efficiency measures for those in energy poverty; and
- supporting the sustainable regeneration of towns and urban centres using a Town Centres First Framework.
The programme covering the area north west of the country is to be managed by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA).
Commenting on the adoption of the ERDF Programmes, Minister McGrath said:
“This funding represents the continuation of an important support mechanism for projects focussing on regional research and innovation and addressing the challenges of the green and digital transformation.
“The adoption of these regional programmes represents the culmination of extensive work and effort by many stakeholders in particular the Regional Assemblies and I would like to acknowledge and thank all those involved.
“I wish those with the responsibility of implementing these programmes every success in the years ahead.”
Director of the Northern & Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) David Minton welcomed the Minister’s announcement. He said: “Ireland has one of the highest levels of regional inequality amongst EU member states. Despite the country’s economic growth, a very uneven pattern of success can be identified where some areas of the country are benefiting significantly less than our capital region. This presents a less positive micro picture of economic success. This investment will significantly address some of our structural weaknesses”.
Mr. Minton said the regional programme submitted by the NWRA was a major investment in the region’s future. He added: “The EU has always been a major contributor to our economy. We are excited to be working with our government partners to deliver this significant investment, which underlines our ambition to be more competitive, more specialised, more urban and more green. It’s an investment in our young people, our talent, our educational institutions, and our towns”.
The Minister’s investment announcement was also welcomed by Chairperson of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly Cllr David Collins who acknowledged the Government’s support for the NWRA in seeking an enhanced package of ERDF funds.
Cllr Collins said: “The investment announcement today of more than €217 million in ERDF funds will help this region achieve its ambition. The investment in the ERDF co-financed programme will help address our structural weaknesses and help us create healthier and more vibrant town’s. However, the biggest challenges lie ahead.”
“The NWRA is advocating for a sustained policy focus on the border and west to ensure long-term sustainable progress and economic inclusion” added Cllr Collins.
Ireland’s ERDF allocation for the 2021 – 2027 period amounts to circa €396 million, and with national co-financing the total ERDF programmes will amount to over €853 million over the period. The focus of the Funds is shaped by the Common Provision Regulations, which provides that the Funds as a whole shall support the following broad Policy Objectives:
1. A smarter Europe – innovative and smart economic transformation. ERDF investment under this objective are informed by the development of DETE’s recently published Smart Specialisation Strategy for Innovation 2022-2027 (S3) and the Regional Enterprise Plans . S3 is an essential requirement for drawdown of ERDF funds under this policy objective
2. A greener, low-carbon Europe – by promoting clean and fair energy transition
3. A more connected Europe – mobility and regional ICT connectivity
4. A more social Europe – implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights
5. Europe closer to citizens – sustainable and integrated development of urban, rural and coastal areas through local initiative