Europe Day 2021: Celebrating the EU Delivering for the Regions
The EU flag is flying ‘virtually’ at the Southern Regional Assembly this Europe Day, 9th May 2021, to celebrate 47 years of transformational financial support from the EU for business, research, and sustainable urban development projects.
EU supports have had an enormous impact on our local communities and regions during those 47 years, co-funding innovative projects, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises and promoting a low-carbon economy.
EU funding has also played a central role in the region’s fight against Covid-19 since its outbreak in Europe last year: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Southern & Eastern Regional Programme, managed by the Regional Assembly, awarded €189,165,299 to the HSE’s drive to secure and sustain continuity of access and supply of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare services in the region.
The EU spends approximately one fifth of its total budget on regional development projects through the ERDF and a broad spectrum of initiatives across the south and east of Ireland have reaped the benefits of the fund in recent years, including infrastructure projects linked to research and innovation, telecommunications, the environment, energy and transport projects.
The ERDF also co-finances direct aid to investments in companies, particularly SMEs, to create sustainable jobs; projects that support regional and local development and foster cooperation between towns and regions; and technical assistance measures.
Cllr. John Sheahan, Cathaoirleach of the Assembly commented: “We are delighted to celebrate the real impact of Ireland’s EU membership to regions and communities, from small business supports through the Local Enterprise Offices, to sustainable urban regeneration through the local authorities, and education and research activities.”
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.
The Assembly has a remit for regional and spatial planning, including the Regional Spatial & Economic Strategy for the Southern Region, and the management and delivery of ERDF programmes, such as the S&E Regional Programme and Interreg Programmes. Last year, the Assembly audited EU funding claims worth over €7 million to Irish organisations that are participating in Interreg projects which support new and next-stage research, small business supports, and bring expertise and knowledge from other EU regions to inform our 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