Dáil Éireann - Volume 682 - 12 May, 2009
Written Answers. - Economic Competitiveness.
Deputy Arthur Morgan Deputy Arthur Morgan
Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the mid-west region not having Objective One status will hinder its ability to attract new investment and jobs; and the efforts he is making to ensure that the mid-west region receives objective one status. [13403/09]
Deputy Brian Lenihan Deputy Brian Lenihan
 Deputy Brian Lenihan:For the purposes of EU Structural and Cohesion Funds, Ireland is designated into two NUTS (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) II regions, namely the Border, Midland and Western (BMW) Region and the Southern and Eastern (S&E) Region.
Under the EU Regulations, regions are classified for financial support based on economic characteristics, e.g population, regional prosperity, unemployment rate etc. Objective one status was aimed at regions whose gross domestic product (GDP) was less than 75% of the European Union average, i.e. those regions lagging behind in development terms. The most recent Eurostat Statistics relating to 2005 has Ireland at 166% of the EU average.
For the 2000-2006 Structural Funds, the designation of the country into two NUTS II regions maximised the Structural Funds allocation available to Ireland as the BMW region retained its objective one status and the S&E region qualified for a six-year phasing out regime for Objective One to the end of 2005.
Objective One has been replaced by the Convergence Objective for the 2007-13 round of EU Structural Funds. However, due to enlargement and our relative prosperity compared to the EU 27, neither of the Irish regions qualifies for funding under this objective. Ireland qualifies under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective and have been allocated €750m for the period.
The Mid-West Region, which comprises the counties of Clare, Limerick and North-Tipperary, is one of the eight Irish sub regions classified for statistical purposes as NUTS 3 regions and is one of the five constituent NUTS III Regional Authority areas which comprise the S&E Region. The “Objective One” status refers to EU Structural Funds only and, therefore does not hinder the region’s ability to attract investment.
The Deputy may wish to note that my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has met with all of the State development agencies under the auspices of her Department, in the context of the job losses occurring in the Midwest region, and I am satisfied that they are working in a fully coordinated manner to take the appropriate actions to support workers in finding new employment, including assistance to re-skill and re-train to enhance their future employment potential. In addition, the Tánaiste established the Mid West Task Force, chaired by Mr Denis Brosnan, in order to assess the particular impact on the wider regional economy of the Dell closure and associated job losses in other companies and is expected to provide an interim report shortly.
Dáil Éireann 682 Written Answers. Economic Competitiveness.