Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Question 193: To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will ensure that an application for funding will be finalised and approved without further delay in respect of a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33419/11]
Question 195: To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress that has been made on reaching an agreement with Northern Ireland Accountable Departments DFP and DETI regarding the match funding percentage split for the Border uplands project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33483/11]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 193 and 195 together.
As the Deputies are aware, this project is due to be implemented under the INTERREG IVA Programme 2007-13 which is co-funded by the Irish and UK (NI/Scotland) Governments and the European Regional Development Fund. The objective of the programme is to support strategic cross-border co-operation for a more prosperous and sustainable region. It has a total allocation of €256m and focuses on the development of a dynamic economy and provision of support to cross-border infrastructure that will improve access to services and thereby improve the quality of life for those living in the eligible region of Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland. The programme is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), one of the six North South Bodies established under the Good Friday Agreement.
To implement the programme, SEUPB issues calls for project applications, assesses applications received (with independent economic appraisal for projects over £500k, as per UK requirements) and presents assessed projects for final selection by Steering Committee. Funding for the approved projects is then provided by the relevant Accountable Departments in Northern Ireland and Ireland (and Scotland partners for tripartite projects).
The INTERREG programme should take account of the overall agreed apportionment of funding from Member States for the period 2007-2013 (IRL 27.6%, UK 72.4%). Currently, Ireland's contribution is in excess of agreed rates (in the order of 40%). My Department, together with the Department of Finance and Personnel in NI and the SEUPB, is working closely to address this issue and ensure that the correct funding ratios are met by end of the programme. Remaining projects will need to be funded with relatively higher UK and relatively lower Irish contributions and an approach is being agreed and finalised to facilitate this. However, pending a resolution, all letters of offer for INTERREG IVA projects have been temporarily on hold. We hope to have a resolution to this issue shortly so that the letter of offer for this tourism project can issue.