Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner and Dick Roche, Irish Minister of State for European Affairs, today sign key documents for the implementation of Cohesion Policy in Ireland over the next seven years. They will sign the National Strategic Reference Framework and the two programmes which will be supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) at a ceremony in Brussels.

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Danuta Hübner welcomed the adoptions: "The two regional programmes are clearly geared towards regional innovation. They are characterised by a 'niche' approach and will concentrate on the knowledge economy, research and development, the promotion of small and medium enterprises and the environment. This will ensure added value and visibility for the European Union. One new feature of the 2007-2013 programming period is that the Regional Assemblies are now entrusted with the task of managing the entire ERDF budget for Ireland. This is a welcome development which I believe will contribute to the development of strong administrative structures at the Regional level and will facilitate implementation of projects on the ground."

Commissioner Špidla said: "Ireland's National Strategic Framework Programme is closely aligned with the EU growth and jobs agenda. The approach will add real value to Ireland's extensive investment in human resources – by helping workers to improve their skills and productivity and by providing support to marginalised groups. This commitment to developing human resources will be important for ensuring the longer-term competitiveness of the Irish economy in the global arena."

Border, Midland and Western Regional programme

(EU investment worth € 228.7 million)

Innovation, information and communication technologies (ICT) and the knowledge economy: collaboration and technology transfer between higher education institutes and the business sector. Broadband will, for instance, be provided to an additional 8000 businesses in areas not currently served;
Environment and risk prevention: stimulate energy efficiency, renewable energy deployment and the integration of sustainable energy practices into public policies, e.g. through fuel-efficient public transport;
Urban development and improvements to secondary transport networks such as projects related to signalling, park-and-ride infrastructure and bridges.
Southern and Eastern Regional programme

(EU investment worth € 146.6 million)

Innovation and the knowledge economy: develop the region's research, development and innovation capacity. Assist new business start-ups and the expansion of micro-enterprises; support experimental innovative actions.
Environment and accessibility: invest in water collection and treatment systems (particularly in villages) and in renewable energy deployment and the integration of sustainable energy practices into public policies. Increase broadband take-up throughout the region.
Sustainable urban development: the Irish authorities plan to enhance the attractiveness of towns and cities, where 70% of the population of the region lives. They will invest in economic, social, cultural or environmental projects.
Notes for editors

The Irish National Strategic Reference Framework was approved by the Commission on 27 July 2007 (see IP/07/1185). This was followed by the approval on 16 October 2007 of the two regional programmes, supported by ERDF ( € 375.3 million). The programme Human Capital investment supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) which covers the whole territory of Ireland was adopted on 6 November. The programmes will be launched nationally on 17 December in Tullamore in the presence of representatives from the European Commission, central government and the Regional Assemblies.

In total, Ireland will benefit from € 901 million under Cohesion policy 2007-2013. In addition to the adopted programmes, the country also participates in three cross-border programmes, with investment of € 469.5 million:

The EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE III-Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland);
The Ireland-Wales programme;
a programme involving Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Scotland.
Ireland also takes part in three trans-national programmes with numerous other Member States. These are the Atlantic Area, North-west Europe, and Northern Periphery programmes, with investment of € 494.6 million.

For more information on these programmes:

See MEMO/07/576 and MEMO/07/577
For further information on regional policy:

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