Relationship with the EU

It has been estimated that over the course of the 40 years of Irish membership of the European Union (EU) from 1973-2013, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in Ireland rose from 53% of the EU average to 140% in 2008. During the same period there was €67 billion worth of transfers from the EU to Ireland, at one point amounting to 5% of Gross National Product. Overall, it has been estimated that Irish farmers benefited from Common Agricultural Policy funds to the value of  €44 billion euro between 1973 and 2008 while structural funds amounted to €17 billion up to 2012.

Given the extent of these figures it is hardly surprising that membership of the EU was largely seen as positive during the years of Irish economic underdevelopment. What changed significantly in the first decade of the twenty first century was the extent to which the euro scepticism apparent for so long in Britain resonated with many in Ireland. In the first twenty years of membership however, this was not a significant factor. The early Eurobarometers, taken twice a year to monitor feelings about the Community in the member states, suggested that it was economics rather than politics that was foremost in the minds of the Irish.


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