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News & Events

Regional Aid Map approval

The European Commission has today confirmed a new Regional Aid Map for Ireland for 2022-2027.

Regional Aid is a form of state aid funded by the Irish exchequer that can be given to enterprises to encourage investment and job creation in economically relatively disadvantaged areas. The Regional Aid Map identifies the areas within Ireland where Regional Aid is allowed under EU rules, as set out in the Commission’s Regional Aid Guidelines. 

The new map, which replaces the previous map in place since January 2014, was required by the Commission’s Regional Aid Guidelines issued in April of last year. 

On foot of these guidelines, in recognition of the strength and improvement in Ireland’s economy since 2014, the European Commission reduced the overall size of the population area of Ireland that could be covered by Regional Aid. This was part of a European wide review. Originally the maximum allowable coverage for Ireland was proposed to be 25.64%, but following intensive negotiations with the Commission, it will be 35.9% for the relevant period. This is compared to 51.3% previously.

While there is a reduction in overall coverage, some or all of each county included in the previous map is included in the new map approved today by the Commission. 

The Map has been devised using a series of objective metrics that balance need for investment with potential for growth, and is in line with priorities set out in the National Development Plan, the Regional Enterprise Plans and the Rural Development Plan.

The Map will be reviewed in 2023 after Census 2022. Areas that did not meet the objective metrics and have been omitted from the Map, will be assisted to apply for alternative forms of State aid in the intervening period. Since 2014 there has been a total of almost €160 million in Regional Aid granted by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment (DETE) and its agencies, with annual expenditure ranging from €28 million to €48 million. Other Departments also run Regional Aid schemes.

Regional aid is funded by the Irish Government, not the European Commission. The Regional Aid map and guidelines merely provide the rules around how Regional Aid can be provided.

Only approximately 7.4% of Ireland’s State Aid is in the form of Regional Aid.  Other aid remains available to enterprises, irrespective of their location. For example, enterprises may still avail of Research Development and Innovation Aid, Environmental Aid, Training Aid and Consultancy Aid, under the General Block Exemption Regulation.  The De Minimis Regulation offers a further avenue particularly for smaller sized grants and investments.

A record 2.48 million people are now at work, close to the 2.5 million Government target set in the Economic Recovery Plan. In 2021, employment increased in all regions. The majority of IDA investments and majority of new jobs created by Enterprise Ireland companies were outside of Dublin.

Notes for Editor

Updated Regional Aid Map can be viewed here: State Aid Regional Aid - DETE (enterprise.gov.ie)

Commission’s Regional Aid Guidelines criteria for inclusion in Regional Aid:

Note, NUTS stands for Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics.

1. Criterion 1: contiguous areas of at least 100 000 inhabitants. These are to be located in NUTS 2 or NUTS 3 regions that have:

i. a GDP per capita below or equal to the EU-27 average; or

ii. an unemployment rate above or equal to 115 % of the national average.

2. Criterion 2: NUTS 3 regions of fewer than 100 000 inhabitants that have:

i. a GDP per capita below or equal to the EU-27 average; or

ii. an unemployment rate above or equal to 115 % of the national average.

3. Criterion 3: islands or contiguous areas characterised by similar geographical isolation (for example, peninsulas or mountain areas) that have:

i. a GDP per capita below or equal to the EU-27 average; or

ii. an unemployment rate above or equal to 115 % of the national average; or

iii. fewer than 5 000 inhabitants.

4. Criterion 4: NUTS 3 regions, or parts of NUTS 3 regions that form contiguous areas, that are adjacent to an ‘a’ area or that share a land border with a country outside the EEA or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

5. Criterion 5: contiguous areas of at least 50 000 inhabitants that are undergoing major structural change or are in serious relative decline, provided that such areas are not located in NUTS 3 regions or contiguous areas that fulfil the conditions to be designated as predefined areas or under Criteria 1 to 4.