Fianna Fáil MEP, Billy Kelleher has said that funds from the European Recovery Fund should be distributed based on the impact of Covid 19 on a Member State’s economy and not on past economic performance.

Kelleher, a member of the centrist Renew Europe group in the parliament, was commenting ahead of a meeting of EU leaders.

“First of all, the EU Recovery Fund is a good plan; it’s a significant investment in Europe by Europe, and I fully support it.

“However, the figures being discussed in relation to Ireland’s proportion are concerning. Ranging from €1.9 billion to €3 billion, they fall well below what Ireland should be getting in my opinion.

“Unfortunately, the EU Commission has weighted funding to member states on the basis of past economic performance which fundamentally reduces the amount of money Ireland will receive. The Commission wrongly believes that member states with weak economies going into the pandemic may have structural deficiencies that will make it more challenging to bounce back.

“Ireland should not be penalised for having a strong economy over the past five years. This fund is a direct response to the Covid 19 pandemic and should therefore be connected to its impact.

“The primary metric should be the damage the Covid 19 pandemic has caused to economies in terms of depressed GDP, unemployment rates and additional expenditure in health services. It must be recognised that member states’ were in different states of economic health at the beginning of the pandemic, but also that Covid-19 hit member states with different levels of severity.

“Certain Member States are, under the existing criteria, set to receive far greater levels of support than Ireland despite the pandemic having a smaller impact on these economies. This is unfair.

“The objective of the fund needs to be to reboot the European economy and make sure all member states and our citizens are in a position to take on the other challenges ahead, like the transition to a green economy, the digitalisation of the EU, and helping our SMEs grow.

“Outgoing Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar and our incoming Taoiseach, who I hope will be Micheál Martin, must use their positions on the EU Council to fight for greater support for our country to support businesses and citizens,” concluded Kelleher.