What is the Southern Regional Assembly
The Southern Regional Assembly established on 1st January 2015, is one of three Assemblies in the Republic of Ireland following on from the dissolution of the BMW and Southern & Eastern Regional Assemblies. The Southern Regional Assembly consists of 35 local representatives. The composition of members on the Assembly is 27 councillors from constituent local authorities in the Southern Region. The remaining 8 councillors are members of the Committee of the Regions and they are appointed to the Assembly on that basis.
What is the Southern Region?
The Southern Region consists of the following Strategic Planning Areas (SPAs):
South-East SPA: Carlow, Tipperary*, Waterford City and County, Wexford, Kilkenny
South-West SPA: Cork City and County, Kerry
Mid-West SPA: Clare, Limerick City and County, Tipperary*
Note: Special arrangements for Tipperary
The former North Tipperary forms part of the Mid-West NUTS III area while the former South Tipperary is in the South-East NUTS III area. The unified county is fully incorporated in Southern Assembly region. Arising from the strong linkage between the northern part of the county and Limerick and between the southern part and Waterford, the 3 Tipperary assembly members will be members of both the Mid-West and South-East Strategic Planning Areas (SPAs).
What is the role of the Southern Regional Assembly?
The Role of the Southern Regional Assembly is to:
- Manage and monitor EU programmes of Assistance;
- To co-ordinate, promote and support strategic planning and sustainable development of the region;
- To promote effective local government and public services in the region, in conjunction with the National Oversight and Audit Commission;
- To prepare and oversee the implementation of Regional Spatial & Economic Strategies (RSES).
Following the regional reform process the Assembly has:
- A stronger role in economic development through the adoption of Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies, which will replace the regional planning guidelines (RPGs), with participation by relevant government departments and state agencies, in the formulation of, and adherence to, the regional strategies. The strategy will be developed for the entire Southern Region, but will contain chapters for each Strategic Planning Area;
- A new role in linking local economic development with regional and national planning through oversight of Local Economic and Community Plans and involvement in regional economic fora in conjunction with relevant interests;
- An important role in promoting and supporting balanced regional development through management of European Structural and Investment funds programmes (ERDF) and securing EU funding for specific regional projects, and also forging linkages between these functions and spatial and economic strategy;
- Preparation of reports on aspects of local authority performance at the request of the National Oversight and Audit Commission.
What are Structural Funds?
Structural Funds consist of 2 European Funds: 1) European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) - ERDF is invested to help reinforce economic and social cohesion by redressing regional imbalances. This is achieved by supporting the development and structural adjustment of regional economies, including the conversion of declining industrial regions. 2) The European Social Fund (ESF) - ESF funded Programmes are designed to help prevent and fight unemployment and to prevent people losing touch with the labour market.
The current round of EU Structural Funds runs from 2014 to 2020. Over this seven-year period Ireland will be in receipt of circa €951 million, it should be noted that 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%. The funding priorities identified for Ireland’s Structural Funds programmes take account of the Europe 2020 Strategy of Smart, Inclusive and Sustainable Growth and the National Reform Programme. They include promoting jobs and growth; combating 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.
The previous round of EU Structural Funds ran from 2007 to 2013 and Ireland was in receipt of more than €375 million in assistance from the European Social Fund. With match funding, this amount rises to almost €1.36 billion of direct Structural Fund support to activity in the area of employment and human resources development.
What is the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)?
The EMFF is the fund for the EU's maritime and fisheries policies for 2014-2020, over the preiod of this programme Ireland will receive funding of €147.6m. The main objectives of the EMFF are to:
- help fishermen in the transition to sustainable fishing
- support coastal communities in diversifying their economies
- finance projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts
- make it easier for applicants to access financing.
What is the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development - EAFRD (Cap Funding)
The EAFRD CAP funding contributes to improving: The competitiveness of agriculture and forestry; The environment and the countryside; The quality of life and the management of economic activity in rural areas The Fund complements national, regional and local actions, which contribute to Community priorities. The Commission and the Member States are also to ensure that the Fund is consistent and compatible with other Community support measures
What is an Operational Programme?
The Operational Programme is a document which sets out the approved investment programme for the Region which is to be co-funded by the EU. It includes investment priorities; targets and impacts; details of priorities and a summary description of themes, implementation arrangements and an overall financing plan.
What is an Implementation Plan?
The Implementation Plan is the document which sets out the detailed elements for each of the themes/subthemes. It includes the objectives for each theme, implementation arrangements, selection criteria, financial management and evidence of compliance with relevant policies and regulations.
Does the Southern Regional Assembly provide direct funding?
Funding is available for the Southern & Eastern Regional Operational Programme through the various Intermediate Bodies/Agencies which are detailed in the Implementation Plan. However, the Southern Regional Assembly awarded ERDF grants of €11 million to the Gateway cities of Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford to co-finance a variety of projects from public realm improvements to green transport routes, from arts centres to tourist visitor attractions. This funding was provided under the ERDF Gateways Scheme which is managed directly by the Assembly.
How much funding is available under the Southern & Eastern Regional Programme?
The total programme funding is €680 million. This comprises of €221 million of exchequer match funding and €146 million of ERDF funding and the balance of the non-co-funded investment under the programme is provided from the Irish exchequer. The funding streams for the Regional Programme are the EU Structural Funds (ERDF), National Exchequer and Local Authority funding.
What is a Strategic Planning Area (SPA)?
An SPA is a sub-regional territorial unit consisting of three or more Local Authority areas (City and County Councils) and established on a statutory basis by the Establishment Order (SI 573 of 2014) for the Regional Assemblies. Each SPA has an SPA Committee drawn from elected representatives from the constituent local authorities of that SPA where strategic and policy issues can be considered and recommendations brought to the plenary level of the Regional Assembly.
What is the RSES?
The RSES is the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy. Each one of the three Regional Assemblies will prepare their own Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES). The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies will provide a long-term regional level strategic planning and economic framework in support of the implementation of the National Planning Framework.
Will there be a RSES for each region for the Strategic Planning Areas within each region?
There will be a single RSES for the Southern Region. Account will be taken in the drafting of the RSES of spatial plans (i.e. Development Plans) and economic plans (i.e. Local, Economic, Community Plans) of local authorities to ensure that the RSES is informed by identified local and regional needs.
What is the role of the Regional Assembly in relation to the preparation of Local Economic and Community Plans (LECP)?
The Regional Assembly has a role in the review of draft LECPs and in their monitoring and implementation. The Assembly works co-operatively with local authorities to develop and implement policy at local level which is consistent with Regional economic and spatial planning objectives.
What is the role of the Regional Assembly in relation to Local Authority Development Plans?
As the Regional Assembly is centrally involved in the formulation and implementation of regional economic and spatial planning policy (through the forthcoming RSES), the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) confers a statutory planning role on the Regional Assembly to ensure that all local authority development plans are consistent with the RSES and relevant national policy. Draft plans or proposed variations to development plans are referred by the Local Authority to the Regional Assembly. The Regional Assembly consider all such plans in accordance with the provisions of the Planning Act and can issue formal observations and recommendations to the relevant local authority where necessary.