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EU grant

MINISTERS plan to make use of a €50bn EU fund to boost telecoms, energy and transport networks in Ireland.

The fund is being established to encourage private investment in European infrastructure.

The project bonds proposal from the European Commission is now subject to the approval of European governments.

However, the Government believes the initiative can be used to improve broadband, electricity and gas systems.

The proposal aims to provide about €31.7bn for transport projects throughout Europe, €9.1bn for energy initiatives and €9.2bn for telecom systems.

It is part of efforts to promote fiscal growth throughout the EU.

Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte said energy interconnections across Europe, including cross-border electricity interconnections, will lead to a "fully integrated internal energy market".

It will benefit consumers through improved security of energy supply and increased competition, he added.

The Government is understood to have looked at the potential for Ireland to benefit from the development of a northern seas offshore electricity grid.

Other projects which are in line for consideration include electricity interconnections in southwestern Europe and gas interconnections in western Europe.

Mr Rabbitte believes the project bonds could be used to complement private investment in broadband networks and communications infrastructure.