Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin T.D. acknowledges key role of Regional Assemblies
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin T.D. acknowledged the role of the Regional Assemblies in the successful management and administration of EU Regional and Inter-regional Programmes as part of EU Cohesion Policy in his address to the joint Annual Conference of the Border, Midland and Western (BMW) and the Southern and Eastern (S&E) Regional Assemblies in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin today Wednesday 19th June. He recognised the Contribution EU Cohesion Policy to economic recovery, stating that “Cohesion Policy has been one of the success stories of Europe, reducing disparities, promoting growth and social inclusion. Ireland has had a very positive experience of Cohesion Policy and in fact Ireland has been used as a success story across Europe” Minister Howlin outlined that Cohesion Policy will be a central tool in achieving the EU 2020 strategy of Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive growth. He also recognised the role of the EIB and the various funding instruments at their disposal to make a significant contribution to Ireland’s growth.
Mr Jonathan Taylor, Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Minister Howlin co-launched the report of a feasibility study into the potential introduction of EIB-backed financial instruments in Ireland. Mr. Taylor presented an overview of the role of the EIB in providing lending support alongside EU Structural funds across the European Union and leveraging additional public and private investment to maximise the impact of the funds. In his address Mr. Taylor stated that, “The European Investment Bank is committed to supporting long-term development across Ireland and recognises the key role of regional authorities in stimulating local growth”. The launch of today’s report is significant in this context.
In his opening address, Councillor Dermot Lacey, Cathaoirleach of the Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly, highlighted the important role of local and regional bodies in economic development He stated that “we need to ensure that the Cohesion Funds and Urban Policy generally are used to the maximum towards rebuilding our country and, equally importantly, to rebuild it in a way that is sustainable, ethical and inclusive” and he also stated that “Cohesion funding is a powerful investment tool which lies at the very heart of Europe’s growth agenda.” He stressed that any reform in local and regional government must be ‘the right reform’ to enable local and regional structures to perform their roles effectively in terms of economic recovery.
Ms Charlina Vitcheva, from the Directorate General for Regional Policy, European Commission, informed the conference of the scale and objectives for EU Regional Policy for the 2014-2020 period. She emphasised the new focus on integrated investments and on achieving clear results aligned with the objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Dr. James Browne, President, National University Ireland, Galway presented the contribution that universities can make to regional economic development and outlined recent developments at NUI Galway in the Medical Devices sector. He stressed the importance of initiatives to commercialise research in order maximise the economic return from the major investment from the EU and exchequer in research infrastructure.
Head of Regions with IBEC Mr. Reg McCabe addressed the conference on the importance of engagement with business in planning and implementing European funding initiatives. He highlighted the extent of regional disparities and the potential of industrial clusters to lead regional economic growth and employment creation. Mr. Rhodri Glyn Thomas Member of the Welsh Assembly and Committee of the Regions, presented on the synergies between private business and public sector investment at local and regional levels.
Local Government is a significant player in the economic development of this country and as accountable and responsive organisations, grounded in their business, environmental, cultural, educational, and social communities, local authorities are closest to citizens Mr Tim Lucey, Cork City Manager tells today’s conference. He then added that Local Government is an innovative leader of the economic growth of the country across all sectors of society. He further stated that he looked forward to further enhancement of this role over the next round of EU funding.
Stephen Blair, Director, Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly, informed the conference of the progress being made by the Regional Assemblies, working with Government Departments, in preparing the new Regional Operational Programmes.
In his closing address, Councillor Frank Dolan, Cathaoirleach, BMW Regional Assembly, highlighted the important role of EU Cohesion policy in stimulating regional economic development across all parts of Ireland and in ensuring that no region was left behind.