Ireland looks set to lose an initial battle to retain its €1bn share of the EU’s €5bn Brexit compensation fund.
EPs are nearing a compromise to change the way the money is allocated, based on a country’s size in the EU economy rather than just its share of trade with the UK. It would also allow more countries to benefit from a special fund for fisheries.
French MEP Valérie Hayer, who sits in the same political group as Fianna Fáil, has drafted a text she believes will be voted through in committee in May and approved by the full European Parliament in June.
“The most privileged countries do their utmost to avoid any change in order not to lose a single penny,” said Ms Hayer.
“My new compromise allows EU countries to get more support for their real needs, and not only for the very few, through the establishment of coherent criteria.”
Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews said the move could see Ireland get up to €200m less than was initially proposed by the European Commission last year.
“That is moving the goalposts halfway through the match,” Mr Andrews told the Irish Independent. “It’s absolutely and completely unfair and we’ll fight this as hard as we can.”
The changes also have to be agreed by national diplomats, where France has the support of Spain, Italy and Greece.
Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath, said Ireland had supported larger EU countries’ demands for more money from the EU’s €672bn Covid-19 recovery and resilience facility (RRF), in exchange for support on the Brexit fund.
“There will be many who argue that Ireland could receive more under that [recovery and resilience facility],” Mr McGrath told an event yesterday. “We have supported the rights of other member states to receive large allocations.”
The Brexit fund comes with fewer conditions than the RRF, which sets green spending targets and has pension, tax and other reform requirements.
Mr McGrath said the Commission’s original proposal “represents a fair and a balanced allocation of what is a limited resource”.
“We do not support changes that have been proposed because Ireland is the most impacted country,” he said.