The Green Party has made a call to the Minister for Local Government to fund the establishment of an EU Unit in every Local Authority in the State.
The party claims that communities are missing out on the benefits of EU funding streams and strategic partnerships across Europe because most local authorities are ill equipped to access or lead projects.
Significant capital funding and partnerships
Green Party Spokesperson for Local Government, Cllr Malcolm Noonan said that only a handful of the larger local authorities had in place staff dedicated to accessing EU funding and cross EU partnerships.
“We believe that local authorities are best placed to meet the multiplicity of challenges before us; climate, urban and rural development, social cohesion and regional economic development. As we now align our new regional strategies with the National Development Plan and local City and County plans, it makes sense that all local authorities have the capacity to maximise the potential of EU funding and partnerships” said Cllr Noonan.
He said that EU Units are commonplace at local government level across Europe. ‘My own local authority, Kilkenny County Council participated in an EU URBACT project and derived significant capital funding and partnership benefits from it, but we were stretched in terms of human resources. I think it would be money well spent to set up a well resourced unit in every local council; in fact I think it would pay for itself as administration is stitched in to all EU funding streams’ he said.
‘Aside of accessing funding, the benefits of sharing knowledge and best practice on matters of sustainable planning and transportation across Europe in particular are immeasurable. I urge Minister for Local Government John Paul Phelan to give serious consideration to our proposal. Sharing our experiences across Europe can only bring us closer together and we need that now more than ever ‘ concluded Cllr Noonan