Howlin to address European Parliament on Cohesion Policy
Public Expenditure & Reform Minister Brendan Howlin travels toBrusselstoday for meetings in the European Parliament at the start ofIreland’s Presidency of the European Union Council of Ministers. On Wednesday he will address the Parliament’s Regional Development Committee chaired by former Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hubner fromPoland.
Cohesion spending lies at the very heart of the growth agenda and will be one of the primary instruments available to the Union to drive investment and to promote growth and jobs in the years ahead, said Minister Howlin.
Funding under Cohesion policy for the period 2007-2013 amounts to €347 billion across 271 regions in 27 Member States, about one third of the total EU budget. The Council and Parliament are currently considering Commission proposals for the period 2014-2020.
The Irish experience of Cohesion Policy has been very positive, and Structural and Cohesion funds have played an important role in the development of Ireland’s economy. The financial transfers from the EU Budget remain important levers available to Member States to bring about change and encourage development in the Regions.
The Minister said that a unique feature of Cohesion policy in Irelandhas been the support provided by the EU to successive cross-border PEACE programmes.
“I think that everyone will acknowledge the important contribution that the PEACE programmes have made to supporting reconciliation and the creation of a shared society in Northern Ireland as well as addressing the legacy of the troubles. I very much hope that it will be possible to have a successor to the current programme when it expires.”
Minister Howlin will also be having meetings with MEPs about public procurement proposals which form a key part of the Single Market agenda.
Given current budgetary restrictions public procurement policy must, more than ever, ensure the optimal use of funds in order to foster growth and job creation. The importance of procurement policy becomes apparent when one sees that each year public authorities across the European Union spend 19% of GDP or approximately €2 trillion on goods, services and works.
Minister Howlin said: “The Irish Government strongly believes that membership of the European Union is vital toIreland’s ongoing recovery and to its future.
Our Presidency of the Council of Ministers will give Ireland an opportunity to demonstrate that we are a constructive and committed Member State that belongs at the very heart of the European decision-making process. We believe that we can help to address the problems that the Union faces, and we look forward to working closely with our partners to ensuring that the Union emerges from the crisis stronger.”
22 January, 2013