The north and west of Ireland has been downgraded to a 'lagging region' by the European Commission after becoming significantly poorer relative to the European average.

The region, which covers Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Donegal and Monaghan has been downgraded from 'more developed' and is now the only part of Ireland to be classed as a lagging region.

In a stark assessment, the commission said the region faced a range of development challenges including lower productivity and educational attainment, as well as a weaker skills base and business environment.

According to today's Business Post, It is now ranked the 177th most competitive region out of a total of 240 in the EU.

The assessment was included in a partnership agreement document between Ireland and the EU last week which unlocked €1.4 billion in funding through the bloc’s cohesion policy.

The money will be used to support the sustainable development of the economy over the next six years, help address regional disparities and aid in decarbonising the economy, and in the country’s digital transformation.

Under the terms of the agreement, €20 million in funding originally earmarked for the southern, eastern and midlands regions will be diverted to the north and west of the country.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the EU funding would be co-financed by the state meaning that programmes worth a total of €3.5 billion aimed at strengthening cohesion and reducing disparities between different regions, including in the north-west region, would be rolled out.

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