Ireland applies for €1bn in EU pandemic grants

Ireland has requested almost €1bn in grants from the EU’s €750bn pandemic recovery fund.
The Government sent the request on Friday, a month after a soft deadline for the plan expired.
The money has to be approved by the European Commission and EU governments before it can be paid out, and is subject to strict conditions.
At least 37pc of the funding must be spent on climate goals and 20pc on digital reforms.
The money is conditional on EU-recommended reforms that are published each spring, which for Ireland include improvements on housing, tax and clean energy.
The European Commission is to publish an updated set of recommendations on Wednesday.
The Government has refused to give any specifics on its funding request.
“The Irish plan is structured around three priority areas: advancing the green transition, accelerating and expanding digital reforms and transformation, and social and economic recovery and job creation,” the European Commission said in a statement.
The Commission said Ireland’s plan “proposes projects in all seven European flagship areas” – which include renewables, energy-efficient buildings, electric vehicles, rapid broadband, e-government, cloud computing and digital skills.
The Government had delayed applying for the money until it had completed an Economic Recovery Plan and a review of the National Development Plan, both of which are expected to launch on Tuesday.
It has played down reports that the delay was due to the EU putting pressure on Ireland to include wide-ranging tax reforms in its funding request.
“In a year that has seen us take on the twin challenges of Covid and Brexit, support from Europe is evidence of the solidarity that has been the hallmark of our EU membership over the last five decades,” said Michael McGrath, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. “A lot of work has been undertaken behind the scenes to get to this point today.”
The recovery fund also offers conditional loans to EU countries, although the Government has not tapped that facility, which could be worth up to €2bn to Ireland.
The grants will be paid out in equal instalments over the next five years, provided the Government has met agreed reform targets and deadlines.
The Commission has two months to examine the plan, and EU governments have a further month to approve it.
The Department for Public Expenditure and Reform said Ireland is expected to receive around €915m in grants in 2021 and 2022, with a further set to be allocated in 2023.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath