Fianna Fáil MEP candidate for Midlands North West Brendan Smith TD has expressed alarm after he was informed that the Border Midlands and West (BMW) region has lost its “developed” status in terms of EU regional development.
Information received by Deputy Smith reveals that the region has been downgraded to “in transition” status ahead of the next EU budget cycle.
“The downgrading of this region, while exceptionally worrying, is not unexpected. Despite Fine Gael claiming that it is interested in balanced regional development, these figures tell the real story. This government has turned its back on investment outside the Greater Dublin Area and this has now been recognised by the EU”, said Deputy Smith.
“Despite representing over a million people that stretches from Donegal down to Galway and across to Louth, the region is lagging behind other parts of the country. This dire situation is a direct result of Fine Gael’s failure to spread the benefits of the recovery in a fair and balanced way, which if managed properly would have boosted indigenous businesses and allowed communities to prosper.
“The latest CSO Labour Force Survey exposed the fact that the two-tier recovery has actually deepened under Leo Varadkar – in 2018 more than half of the total employment gains went to Dublin. In fact, when you take in the Greater Dublin Area as a whole that figure rises to a shocking 70%.
“Under the European Commission’s proposals, published last year, Ireland’s overall allocation for cohesion funding is being cut by 13% in the next budget. It is imperative that the proposed cut is reversed in discussions on the Multiannual Financial Framework budget post 2020 later this year.
“This region needs a strong, hard-working and passionate MEP, who is prepared to stand up for the people living here. My experience as a local and national representative, combined with my time representing the Irish government as Agriculture Minister on the Council of Ministers, makes me the most qualified and capable MEP candidate in this field to get a better deal for communities across the Midlands-North-West”, concluded Deputy Smith.