Ireland relents on EC aid

Ireland said yesterday that it had moved to unblock progress on key aid for the European Community's poorest regions, but still reserved the right to say 'no' to the aid package if it does not get a big enough share, Reuter reports from Brussels.

An Irish spokesman said Dublin was sufficiently encouraged by the progress of funding negotiations with the EC's Commission to lift its immediate objection, so that the aid package could go to the European Parliament next week. But he added that there was still no agreement on Ireland's share of the six- year, dollars 164bn ( pounds 110bn) package and Dublin could still block approval by EC ministers later this month if no accord had been reached.

EC officials say Ireland has been offered about dollars 10.5bn of aid, short of the dollars 11.25bn it wants.

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