Call for post Brexit funds for ports

MEP Sean Kelly is calling for more funding for Irish ports to reduce our dependence on the UK 'landbridge' post Brexit.

Kelly called for the EU to deliver additional funding for the nation's ports as it sets the EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the Union's budget for the periuod 2021-2027.

He said that identifying additional funding for Irish ports should be a 'key priority' as preparations for the UK's leavetaking continue.

Kelly, who is Ireland's representative on the European Parliament's Industry Committee, proposed a number of amendments to the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) on Friday that would bolster his goal.

CEF is the €42.3 billion fund for the energy, transport and digital networks of the EU.

"I welcome the Commission's proposal for the new Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), however, I believe that in the context of the UK's imminent withdrawal, there is a need to shift the focus more towards ensuring that the essential infrastructure is in funded so that we are in a position to deal with the likely impacts," Sean Kelly said on Friday.

"For this reason, I am seeking to expand the scope of the eligibility criteria for CEF to specifically allow for actions necessary to build or upgrade infrastructure to handle the consequences of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU to qualify for grant funding.

"I think this is a crucial addition, and it will ensure that our ports are position to avail of EU funds for the upgrades they need to handle increased trade by sea. Brexit means that Ireland needs to diversify its trade routes to the other EU Member states; we cannot rely solely on the UK land bridge. My proposed amendments to the CEF would ensure that ports such as Shannon Foynes, Cork, Waterford, Rosslare and Dublin would be prioritised.

"Additionally, I am calling for the 'Motorways of the Sea' to be considered a key priority under the CEF. The Commission's Motorways of the Sea aims to improve maritime logistics chains in Europe."