Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Questions (192)

Brendan Smith


192. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the outcome of discussions to date with the European Commission on the Cohesion Funding post-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5651/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Following the publication of the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) on 02 May 2018, the Commission published their Cohesion Policy Legislative package on 29 May, along with initial indicative allocations of structural and cohesion fund support for each Member State.

In Ireland’s case this allocated was estimated to be €1.088 billion. However, it should be noted that final details of Ireland’s ultimate allocation will not be confirmed until after the conclusion of negotiations on the MFF. Beyond this estimate, there is no further detail available as to what the final allocation will be or how it will be allocated between the various Funds. For the next round, the Border Midland and Western Region will revert to being a transition region, as its GDP per capita is between 75% and 100% of the average EU GDP, while the Southern and Eastern Region remains a more developed region. The level of co-financing to be provided by the Member State has increased to 60% for more developed regions, 45% for transitions regions and 30% for less developed regions (up from 50%, 40% and 15/20%).

In line with the obligations under the European (Scrutiny) Act, 2002, and the European Union Act, 2009, with regard to the provision of information on EU business to the Oireachtas, scrutiny notes were prepared in relation to all elements of the package and have been considered by Joint Oireachtas Committee on EU Affairs.

Since the European Commission published its legislative proposals on the regulations governing the implementation Cohesion Policy programmes post 2020, discussions have been on-going at Working Party and Ministerial level with Member States, seeking to clarify the proposals and assess their implications. Ireland is participating actively in these negotiations. In general Ireland believes that the legislative package is a good starting point for negotiations and welcomes, in particular, the level of simplification introduced in relation to the implementation of programmes.

Since the European Commission published its legislative proposals discussions have been on-going at Working Party and Ministerial Level and Council’s position on the overall package remains to be finalised.

Following on from the Bulgarian Presidency, who undertook the first examinations and considerations of the overall package, the Austrian Presidency held working party meetings almost weekly, aimed at progressing the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR), the European Regional Development Fund Regulation/Cohesion Fund (ERDF/CF), the European Social Fund + Regulation (ESF+), the European Territorial Cooperation Regulation (ETC) and the European Cross Border Mechanism Regulation (ECBM) – while concentrating on the CPR. This has allowed a "partial general agreement" (i.e., agreement on particular negotiating blocks, subject to overall agreement on MFF) on the Council’s position, ahead of further negotiations with the European Parliament, to be reached on two blocks (or parts) of the Common Provisions Regulation, i.e. Blocks 1 and 5, relating to programming and strategic planning (Block 1), and management and control (Block 5). These were prioritised by the Austrian Presidency to assist national and regional authorities with their preparations for planning and programming the implementation of post 2020 programmes. The Austrian Presidency presented a progress report to the European Council on 13th/14th December before handing the file over to the incoming Romanian Presidency.

The Romanian Presidency commenced working party meetings on 10 January and like their predecessors have set out a very ambitions work programme involving almost weekly meetings. Their priority is to reach a partial general approach on further blocks of the Regulations before the 25 June European Council and they will continue discussions on the ERDF/CF, ESF+ and ETC Regulations based on progress made to date.