Celebrating 50 years of Ireland in the EU this Europe Day
Happy Europe Day from the Southern Regional Assembly!
Europe Day is celebrated on 9th May each year to mark the signing of the Schuman Declaration on 9 May 1950 - an ambitious plan to secure long-term peace in post-war Europe that is considered the beginning the European Union that we know today. Working for peace in Europe is even more important today, in solidarity with Ukraine.
This year’s Europe Day is a very special celebration as we also mark 50 years since Ireland joined the EU back in 1973. Signing the Treaty of Accession was the most important moment in Irish Foreign Policy since the foundation of the State. A referendum in May 1972 subsequently ratified the Accession Treaty and Ireland became a member of the European Communities on New Year’s Day 1973.
Our EU membership has changed how we live, work, study and travel for the better and EU funding has been a huge support in this. The Southern Regional Assembly has managed the European Regional Development Fund’s (ERDF) Regional Programmes since 2000, seeing over a billion euro ERDF in support for local businesses, research institutions, towns and cities across the Southern and Eastern region up to 2020.
The ERDF will again support the Southern region with the newly launched €663 million Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programme 2021-27. The funding will be managed again by the Southern Regional Assembly and supports will be channelled along three priorities and awarded through eight schemes to support research, innovation, energy efficiency and regional town regeneration across the Southern Region and Eastern and Midland Region.
Priority 1 is the creation of smarter and more competitive regions by enhancing research and innovation capacity and supporting regional enterprise. Priority 2 is the creation of low carbon, energy efficient regions and will be achieved by supporting investments to improve energy efficiency of residential homes, targeting homeowners in or at risk of energy poverty. Priority 3 is sustainable & integrated urban development which involves taking an integrated strategic approach to the regeneration of our towns using a Town Centres First Framework.
Examples of socially inclusive and sustainable regional projects capitalising on ERDF funding include:
- Enhancement of Clare’s Shannon Town Park
- Regeneration of Limerick’s O’Connell Street
- Transformation of Waterford city’s historic Apple Market
- Landscaped public realm works at Kilkenny’s new Abbey Quarter
- Transformation of Tralee’s Island of Geese
- Regeneration works at Wexford’s Crescent Quay
- Construction of Cork’s youngest bridge, Mary Elmes
- Construction of a boardwalk along the side of Mallow Bridge
Cllr. Oliver Walsh, Cathaoirleach of the Southern Regional Assembly said, “EU funding has long been a welcome support to Waterford in so many ways over the years. The new EU investment will build capacity within and between our regions to directly address the need to balance regional disparity. I look forward to watching the different support schemes progress over the coming years in this new chapter of ERDF to continue to improve our way of life at regional level.”
The Southern Regional Assembly is responsible for implementing the Regional Spatial & Economic Strategy for the Southern Region, managing and delivering ERDF and Interreg programmes, auditing EU funding project claims, and participating in EU-funded projects.
In 2022, the Assembly audited EU funding claims worth over €10 million to Irish organisations that are participating in EU projects which support new and next-stage research, small business supports, and bring expertise and knowledge from other EU regions to inform public policy development.
The Southern Region is represented by 33 local councillors who serve as Assembly Members and meet monthly to discuss issues related to regional planning, local, national and EU policies, EU programme management and EU project benefits.