For the period 2007 to 2013, the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund allocation to the BMW region was EUR 457.4 million. The criteria used to assess the allocation of funds to the BMW region for the next programme period 2014 to 2020 will result in a reduction of up to EUR 199.1 million for the region.

However, the criteria used is both “outdated” and “flawed” according MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher as the reference years used pre-date the devastating economic crisis and rising unemployment levels across Ireland and the BMW region in particular. A final decision on the allocation of funds will be made by EU leaders when they meet on the 07-08 February next to agree the Multi-annual Financial Framework 2014 to 2020.

In the European Parliament last week, Pat the Cope raised the matter with Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform during his presentation on the priorities of the Irish Presidency to the Committee on Regional Development.

Pat the Cope stated today that “EU structural funds are vitally important in terms of stimulating economic growth and job creation and such funding is now needed more than ever before”.

“Unfortunately, the BMW region has been reclassified as a more developed region based on GDP per capita levels from 2007 to 2009 which is grossly unfair considering the unemployment rate now stands at 16.5% across the region which is 20% below the EU target set under the Europe 2020 strategy for growth.”

Pat the Cope further stated that “at an EU level precedent does exist whereby regions in transition can benefit from special allocation provisions. I strongly believe that the BMW region is entitled to such assistance as a peripheral region most affected by the current crisis.”

Pat the Cope concluded by stating “I urge the Government to seek a special allocation of up to EUR 345 million as recommended by the BMW regional assembly based on a detailed review and to prioritise this matter in the context of the Irish Presidency of the EU.”