The Regional Policy of the European Union in Ireland
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Publication date: 2005-04-30
GNPJE 2005;199(4):73-98
Until the early 1990s, Ireland was one of the least developed member states of the European Union. It was beset with major structural problems, high unemployment, low exports, a huge budget deficit and foreign debt. In the second half of the decade, the country’s macroeconomic indicators improved markedly and Ireland became one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This was due to a combination of several factors, including the country’s skillful use of EU funds and pro-growth government policy, which encouraged increased business activity and foreign direct investment. The main goal of the EU’s regional policy in Ireland was external convergence based on equalizing economic growth and incomes between Ireland and the rest of the EU. In connection with that approach, the economic boom deepened socioeconomic differences between individual regions of the country. Today, Irish politicians face two basic priorities. They are hard pressed to maintain their country’s fast economic growth of the late ‘90s and bring about greater convergence in regional incomes. In connection with this, experts recommend that the main goal of regional policy in Ireland should be to improve the competitiveness of regional economies, and thus keep the country on a sustainable growth path.
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