Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has warned the Irish Government that EU funds must be primarily used for social projects and not financing their friends in the private sector.
The Ireland South MEP, who sits on the EU Budgets Committee, was speaking after meeting with the European Court of Auditors to discuss her concerns about the use of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI).
“EFSI has not delivered in any meaningful way for the ordinary people of Ireland or Europe,” she said.
“I have raised specific queries with the European Court of Auditors from an Irish point of view and they have committed to investigating these and providing answers.
“EFSI was introduced as a means to strategically invest in high risk projects throughout Europe where investment gaps were identified.
“Looking at the majority of projects which have been financed, I do not consider them high risk. They would ordinarily be financed through existing commercial bank lending facilities.
“My specific concerns on the delivery of EFSI relate to the high concentration of funds towards the private sector.
“It was agreed that EFSI would contain a significant social element that would deliver a more social economy for people.
“EFSI can deliver this aim for the Irish economy but that will require a change in ideology from the Irish Government.
“Currently only 4% of projects delivered across Europe have been from a social infrastructure point of view. This is not good enough.
“While I have been able to put forward a number of amendments in the EU parliament protecting the social aspect of funding, such as proposing a social enterprise aspect for cooperatives, it is member state governments who have the final say on what type projects should be financed.
“We have unprecedented crises in housing, health and public infrastructure. EFSI has funding available and is ready to lend.
“The Irish Government needs to step up to its responsibilities here and deliver social projects for people.”