Ireland has finally asked for its first reimbursement of covid recovery cash from the EU.

In 2021, following the worst of the pandemic, the EU set up a fund worth €800 billion to revive Europe’s economies.

Made up of a mix of grants and loans, EU member states had to prove that they would spend the money on projects linked to recovery and the green economy.

The European Commission eventually agreed to assign more than €900 million for Ireland.

But the Irish government has not drawn down from the fund. Until now.

The European Commission has now received a “first payment request from Ireland for €323.8 million” under the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

“This first payment request relates to 36 milestones and five targets [agreed between Ireland and the EU]. These cover numerous investments, for instance in the area of jobs and skills through a work placement experience programme, a programme for green skills, and strengthening the capacity of Technological Universities. Investments also concern the digital transition, through the digitalisation of public administration and the connection of schools to the broadband network.”

According to the EU, the money has also been used to help make Ireland greener including for “the rehabilitation of peatlands, the electrification of public transport in Cork, investments in the energy-efficiency of public buildings, and the upgrade of wastewater treatment plants.”

The European Commission will now scrutinise exactly how the cash has been used in Ireland before payment is made.

“Payments will be linked to performance”

If Ireland is refunded in full for this first tranche, it will still have around two-thirds of the pot to use up.

“Ireland’s overall recovery and resilience plan will be financed by €914 million in grants. Payments under the RRF are performance-based and contingent on Ireland implementing the investments and reforms outlined in its recovery and resilience plan.”