EU Cohesion Policy: €1.4 billion for Ireland’s economic and social development and green transition in 2021-2027 – Regional policy

The details and strategy for these investments are set out in the Partnership Agreement between Ireland and the Commission which is officially launched today.

These EU funds will help Ireland address regional disparities by boosting innovation and competitiveness, enabling the digital transformation of the economy, investing in social inclusion, skills training and employment, and in the green transition.

Green transition, innovation and cross-border cooperation

€396 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will strengthen regional innovation ecosystems by improving the capacities of newly created ‘technical universities’, which will function as regional knowledge centres. Funds will also be invested to increase the energy efficiency of housing, thus helping families at risk of fuel poverty, while contributing to the green and fair transition.

ERDF will also be of great help for the revitalization of town centres. The investments will improve the appearance and liveability of medium and small towns in Ireland, in line with the principles of New European Bauhaus.

In addition, €293 million will be allocated to European cross-border cooperation programs for joint development and peace activities in the northern periphery and Atlantic areas and with North West Europe.

Finally, €84 million from the Just Transition Fund (JTF) will help the Irish Midlands cope with the impact of abandoning peat for power generation.

Employment and social inclusion

€508 million from the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) will contribute to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan and contribute to the achievement of key social objectives at EU level.

More than half of the ESF+ envelope will contribute to reducing the risk of poverty and social exclusion, with a focus on disadvantaged groups. More than 20,000 vulnerable children will benefit from better access to social services tailored to their individual needs. In order to facilitate the social and professional integration of disadvantaged communities of people with a migrant background, the ESF+ will also finance tutoring and training in language and social skills.

ESF+ funding will also improve people’s chances of finding a job by providing training in upskilling and retraining measures, lifelong learning and education. The focus will be on helping people who face greater challenges in the labor market, including more than 6,000 people with disabilities. In total, the program aims to help 90,000 jobseekers participate in training to develop new skills by 2029.

Sustainable fishing, aquaculture and processing sector

Around €142 million from the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFF) will help adapt the Irish fisheries and aquaculture sectors to current challenges. The funding will support the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, the growth of a sustainable blue economy and the healthy, safe and sustainable management of seas and oceans. Investments in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors will also contribute to Ireland’s green transition, supporting the development of small-scale coastal fisheries through community-led local development.

College members said:

Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreirasaid: “After today’s adoption of the Partnership Agreement, Ireland will receive support to continue to develop its economy in a fair and green way, ensuring that no region is left behind. Since joining the EU in 1973, the country has benefited from Cohesion Policy funds to support its transformation into a modern, innovation-driven economy. Support under this new partnership agreement will continue to drive innovation in Irish regions, while contributing to the green transition and quality of life in Irish cities. Ireland has a far-reaching smart, green and digital future ahead of it.

Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, Nicolas schmitadded: “In these difficult times, it is more important than ever to have a fair and inclusive labor market and society. The ESF+ will make a positive difference in the daily lives of Irish people, focusing particularly on those who need extra support, helping them find new jobs, learning innovative skills and protecting them from poverty and social exclusion.”

Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkeviciussaid: “This partnership agreement will create favorable conditions to support the development of a sustainable blue economy in coastal, island and inland areas of Ireland. It will play a central role in increasing the resilience of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, while strengthening the protection of the marine environment and biodiversity. It will also support coastal communities and contribute to Ireland’s commitment to a carbon neutral economy by 2050.”


Within the framework of the cohesion policy, and in cooperation with the Commission, each Member State prepares a partnership agreement, a strategic document for the programming of the investments of the cohesion policy funds – ERDF, ESF+, and the Cohesion Fund – the JTF and the EMFF during the multiannual financial framework.

Partnership agreements focus on EU priorities, setting out the strategy and investment priorities identified by each Member State. They present a list of national and regional programs tailored to the country’s needs for the implementation of investments on the ground, including the indicative annual financial allocation for each program.

The partnership agreement with Ireland is the 22nd to be adopted after those with Greece, Germany, Austria, Czechia, Lithuania, Finland, Denmark, France, Sweden, the Netherlands Bas, Poland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Portugal, Estonia, Slovakia, Italy, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia and Malta.

Joel C. Hicks