Some of the poorest counties in Ireland are to lose significant amounts of EU money from 2006 unless European governments increase their contributions to the EU budget.

The counties are those in the border, midland and western regions of the country.

At the moment they get the most EU funding available for roads and infrastructure projects.

This arrangement is due to end in 2006 but the EU had been planning transitional finance to compensate for the drop in funding that would result.

However, the EU Commissioner for Budgets, Michaele Schreyer, warned today that this plan will be dropped if national governments do not contribute more to the EU budget.

Currently EU countries pay 1% of national income into the EU budget.