The road to Irish economic recovery is inextricably linked with European Union assistance, according to Liam Aylward.

Speaking on Thursday last, Mr Aylward stated that the EU will be “to the forefront in helping us implement our economic recovery plan”.

He added: “the reality is that Ireland will not be able to economically recover without strong economic support from the EU.”

So how is the EU assisting Ireland through troubled fiscal waters?

“I’ve mentioned the €1.8 billion under CAP already,” he said during a visit to the European Parliament by Irish regional newspaper reporters last Thursday.

“Some €375 million has been provided to Ireland to retrain those unemployed in our country between 2007 and 2013.

“Not only that, but Irish companies are currently receiving over €1 million a week in support from the EU to promote our research and technology sectors.”

Mr Aylward continued: “The European Investment Bank is set to sign off a series of loans for small and medium sized enterprises this month which will be used to support the SME sector.

“This sector, which comprises 55 per cent of all Irish jobs, is, after all the backbone of our economy and there’s no doubt that the economic importance of our membership of the EU is simply enormous.”

Tighter regulation of banks was also a given looking at the immediate and long term future.

“Even though we had regulators in every country, none seemed to be working to a common objective,” according to the Ireland East MEP.

“In fact, you could say that none were doing their jobs when you look at the level of toxic debt that banks were allowed to build up, so now Europe is stepping in there again.

He added: “Let me say that Europe tried to step in before but the Member States prevented it.

“Contrary to what public opinion might be, the Member States would not play ball during the crisis; now, however, there’s a realisation that they have to because what went on will no longer be tolerated.

“So it’s important that the positive steps being taken by Europe are made known to citizens so that an economy that serves a market of 500 million can get moving again.”