Since Ireland joined the then EEC in 1973, we have gone from being the poorest Member State with only 57% of the average EU GDP, to one of the wealthiest in the EU, even after the terrible effects of the financial and economic crisis.
EU funds have transformed Ireland. Below, I have compiled detailed information on current funds, including the aims of the funds and how to access them.
Ireland receives just under €2 billion in funds from EU coffers per annum, with the majority nowadays going to support the agriculture industry.
EU funds have built much of our "hard" infrastructure including our national roads and motorways, rail, ports, sewerage treatment infrastructure and broadband, permitting our export-oriented economy to be one of the most productive and competitive in the world.
EU funds have also contributed to our "soft" infrastructure, with our universities, ITs, PLC colleges and Fás/Solas Training Centres deploying thousands of courses funded by the European Social Fund, as well as the Lifelong Learning, ERASMUS, Leonardo de Vinci, Comenius and Grundtvig programmes.
EU funds continue to seed entrepreneurship locally and nationally, with the Enterprise Boards providing assistance and capital for innovative start-ups and the LEADER programme providing funding for rural development.
Finally, EU funds are driving research and innovation in our universities, ITs and research institutes such as the Marine Institute through the €80 billion Horizon 2020 programme. Horizon 2020 is crucial for the future sustainability of our knowledge economy.