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Lower funding for 'wealthy' Ireland

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SMALL businesses and rural areas will receive up to €3.5bn in EU regional funding between now and 2020.

However, the figure is far smaller than that which Ireland received previously, and is some €13bn less than we received in 1992, when adjusted for inflation.

Eastern European countries now receive the bulk of the funding, previously known as structural funding, due to rising incomes in the western part of the continent.

The EU's Rural Development Fund will provide some €2.2bn for local services and infrastructure.

Another €542m will come from the European Social Fund, which aims to tackle unemployment and support job-seekers, while €68m will be provided by the Youth Unemployment Initiative.

Our basic regional funding comes in at just over €400m, including €160m allocated for development in the border, midlands and west regions, with a further €249m for the south and east parts of the country.

Despite the considerable drop in funding, our economy is also set to benefit from exports to countries which now receive larger pieces of the money pie, according to EU officials.

The overall EU budget for regional funding comes in at €350bn, a figure matched by national governments.

Irish Independent