Money from the European Union’s Covid-19 recovery fund will be spent on a green and digital transformation in Ireland, according to the Finance Minister.
Ministers have been taking submissions on how to spend Ireland’s €853 million share in grants from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).
The RRF will make some €672.5 billion in loans and grants available to support reforms and investments undertaken by EU member states.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the Government is examining some specific areas for spending, though no final decisions have been taken.
“My judgement is that the three priority areas that the RRF plan will look to deliver in Ireland will be about a green transition in Ireland, will be about how we can better fund the digital transformation of our economy, and then finally also in the area of skills,” he said.
It comes as a meeting of the Eurogroup, chaired by Minister Donohoe who was elected its president in July 2020, took place on Monday.
The informal meeting of finance ministers from across the eurozone was briefed by Dr Mike Ryan and Dr Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on how the Covid-19 pandemic is evolving amid a vaccine rollout.
In a statement, the Department of Finance said a debate on the prospect of a gradual reopening of European economies was informed by the briefing from Dr Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, and Dr Aylward, senior advisor to the WHO’s Director General.
We now need to ensure that we work harder than ever to build on the unprecedented economic support measures
“The expertise and experience of Dr Ryan and Dr Aylward provided the backdrop for an insightful and engaging discussion on the evolving social and economic challenges we face due to the Covid-19 pandemic at a national, European and global level,” Minister Donohoe said.
“We now need to ensure that we work harder than ever to build on the unprecedented economic support measures already agreed to deliver the coordinated support, reforms and sustainable growth our citizens and economies need.”
With the European Commission forecasting that economic growth is expected to resume in spring, eurozone ministers also discussed the coordination of national economic and budgetary policies.
Ministers endorsed a staged approach to budgetary discussions at the Eurogroup, the Department of Finance said.
Developments in the solvency of the corporate sector were also discussed, with the group noting “the need to continue to carefully monitor the solvency situation in the corporate sector, so as to protect jobs and to effectively target supports”.
The “potential opportunities and advantages but also the risks” of an enhanced international role of the euro currency were also assessed.