MEP for Ireland South and Leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, Sean Kelly, has today encouraged Irish businesses to make full use of opportunities available under the EU Investment Plan to mitigate against the potential economic impacts of Brexit in the coming years.
Mr. Kelly was speaking from Wexford today (Friday), where he hosted a public meeting on “Brexit and the EU Investment Plan”, which also included contributions from Minister of State, Michael D’Arcy; President of the Irish Road Hauliers Association, Verona Murphy; Jacek Truszczynski of the European Commission; and Head of the European Investment Bank’s Dublin Office, Cormac Murphy.
In his opening address, Mr. Kelly highlighted the potential of the EU Investment Plan for Ireland as the UK’s withdrawal date draws nearer.
“The EU Investment Plan has been a huge success in recent years, and it perfectly demonstrates the benefit of being a member of the European Union. The flagship programme thus far has been EFSI (European Fund for Strategic Investments), which had mobilised €371.2 billion in additional investments as of December 2018, and which will hit €500 billion by 2020, supporting 856,000 EU SMEs in the process.
“EFSI will soon be succeeded by the new InvestEU Programme, which is set to mobilise a further €650 billion in additional investments by 2027, and for which I have the privilege of being part of the European Parliament’s negotiating team. Even a fraction of this €650 billion investment coming Ireland’s way would bring significant job creation and help support our companies through the challenges set to be brought on by Brexit.
“A key improvement that InvestEU has over EFSI, however, is the focus on small businesses and helping them to access finance. InvestEU will ensure that adequate support is allocated to smaller companies and projects. A good project that is struggling to get financing would be able to go to the EIB or another InvestEU implementing partner, and if it meets the required criteria, the EU Guarantee can take on some of the risk and increase the likelihood of financing.
“We all know of cases where a perfectly good business venture or project fails to get off the ground due to difficulties obtaining financial backing for whatever reason – this where the Investment Plan comes in. The opportunities for Ireland are clear, especially as it means an overwhelming majority of our companies would qualify for support as a result. With Brexit set to hit many of these companies hardest, it will be important to encourage our businesses to take full advantage of the opportunities available.
“Today’s meeting is an opportunity for us all to discuss the challenges ahead in the context of Brexit, and explore the ways in which the EU Investment Plan can be an important part of the solution for Ireland”, concluded Mr. Kelly.