Ireland is to receive a total of €990 million in EU grants to support recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic.
At a meeting with the Taoiseach in Dublin last week, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen formally endorsed Ireland's plan for how the fund will be used.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the fund, which is part of the EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility, will be focused on three key priorities -
- advancing the green transition;
- accelerating digital reforms and transformation - and
- supporting social and economic recovery and job creation.
He said it will help to rebuild the economy after the pandemic, as well as "drive the climate and digital transformations on which our future wellbeing and prosperity rely".
Some 42% of the funding will go on climate objectives, including electrifying the Cork commuter rail (€146m) the rehabilitation of peatland (€108m) and the retrofitting of residential and public buildings (€100m).
In return, Ireland must commit to reforms including enshrining climate neutrality by 2025 into law, and a carbon tax.
A further 32% of the funding will be to fund a digital transition. This will include €105m for the digitisation of public services and administration, €64m for funding connectivity and ICT devices for schools and €39m for the development of a shared government data centre.
At a press conference with the Taoiseach, Ms von der Leyen said the recovery plan "will reshape our continent for decades ahead".
She said it is the largest recovery package that Europe has seen since the Marshall Plan in the aftermath of Word War II and "it is necessary because we want to spur the recovery for Europe, and indeed Ireland, for now and for the future".
"We want to be stronger coming out of this pandemic than we went into it and we want to emphasise and invest in our common objectives," she said.
Mr Martin and Ms von der Leyen held a brief meeting, during which they also discussed issues such as the Northern Ireland Protocol, the vaccine roll-out and the growing presence of the Delta variant.