Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Department of An Taoiseach
I provided a detailed report to the House last week on the special meeting of the European Council on 17 to 21 July, where we reached political agreement on a €1.8 trillion budgetary package to drive Europe’s economic recovery and the climate and digital transformations.
These were especially challenging negotiations, lasting over four days. With a significant number of other leaders, I supported an ambitious and balanced approach, capable of meeting the scale of the challenges we are facing and equipping the EU well for the future. That is what was agreed.
In my interventions, in addition to seeking to ensure an ambitious package – one that enables us to deliver our priorities as a Union – I made it clear that I would only support an outcome in which Ireland’s interests were secured, including in relation to the CAP and Brexit.
That is reflected in the outcome on both MFF and the Next Generation EU recovery fund, which are well aligned with Government priorities as set out in the Programme for Government.
Despite the significant downward pressure on the budget, and the poor starting point as set out in the Commission’s original proposal for the MFF, the outcome succeeds in protecting the CAP, including through the provision of a special allocation of €300m for Ireland to reflect the challenges facing the sector here.
In further support for peace and reconciliation, the EU will provide a special allocation of €120 million to the PEACE PLUS programme. Together with funding from the Irish and British Governments this will make a substantial fund available to support valuable projects.
The EU has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ireland during the Brexit process. The package we agreed includes a €5 billion Brexit Adjustment Reserve, which will help support those Member States and sectors most affected. The Government will now work hard to maximise the benefits available to Ireland.
In addition, funding for competitive funds, such as the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, has been substantially increased.
As I made clear in my interventions at the meeting, the EU is facing the most exceptional challenges as a result of Covid19 and its social and economic impacts. Economic recovery for one Member State, including Ireland, will not be possible, without economic recovery for all. It is therefore essential that the EU works together in solidarity towards that goal.
The outcome of the European Council, is one capable of supporting an EU-wide economic recovery and progress in the climate and digital transformations. That is of vital importance to Irish economic interests.