Ireland is to receive more than €3.3bn from the EU over the next six years, with €2bn going to battle the effects of climate change and to protect the environment.
The Government will match the funds earmarked for specific programmes, the details of which are being worked on. The money is in addition to the funds that go to the farming sector.
The second biggest area agreed for the money is €350m to combat poverty and discrimination, and encourage the inclusion in society of marginalised people.
A sum of €68m is being set aside to help cut the high number of young people not in work, while €307m is earmarked to create quality and sustainable jobs. Close to €284m goes to improving the competitiveness of SMEs in the agriculture, fish, and acquaculture sectors.
Another €262m will be spent on improving information and communications technology and on strengthening research and innovation.
The agreement on the sums and how they will be spent was welcomed by Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, his former Government colleague Brendan Howlin, and by Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune.
Mr Hogan said: “We are putting agriculture centre stage to create jobs and help drive exports. The sector has played a key role in the recovery, with agriculture and food creating 67,000 new jobs over the last three years.
“I am sure that Ireland will, as it has consistently done in the past, propose ambitious and well-targeted rural development measures that will encourage sustainable food production, increased agricultural productivity, enhanced environment and biodiversity, and, crucially, more job creation in rural communities throughout the country.”
Close to €250m has been earmarked for spending in the south and eastern region, which includes Dublin and Cork, with €160m for the poorer but less populous region of the border, midlands, and west regions.
Ms Clune said: “It is imperative that this money is targeted properly at key infrastructural and social projects and used in the most efficient manner possible. We need to invest in our SMEs and create real and sustainable jobs for our young people.”
The allocation of close to €2bn to help shift towards a low carbon economy, adapt to climate change, and protect the environment reflects key areas in the EU’s programme for the next decade.
This includes reducing the dependence on imported fuels, cutting carbon emissions, and creating jobs through investing in new low-carbon technologies.
Mr Howlin, the public expenditure and reform minister, said the Government succeeded in getting an increase in funding for the border, midlands, and western regions, and €150m towards the new Northern Ireland PEACE programme.
The partnership agreement represents a new approach by the commission by setting out specific targets to be achieved with EU funds. This includes programmes to encourage and help entrepreneurs set up businesses including through business incubators, and helping SMEs to become involved in developing new products and to export.
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