Thursday, 1 April 2021
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
113. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the funding committed to date for the Interreg and Peace Plus Programmes post-2020; the level of funding to be provided by the Irish and UK Governments and the European Commission, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17929/21]
114. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the Interreg and Peace Plus Programmes post-Brexit with particular reference to cross-Border projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17930/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 114 together.
In 2018, as part of its proposals for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework and Cohesion policy for the 2021-27 period, the European Commission proposed a special new cross-border EU funding programme for the island of Ireland, PEACE PLUS. This is a proposal which demonstrates the importance placed by the Commission, EU Member States, the UK and Ireland on the strengthening of peace and prosperity across Northern Ireland and the Border counties of Ireland.
PEACE PLUS will continue and build upon the work of the PEACE and INTERREG programmes by combining these two funding strands into a single programme which covers an eligible area of Northern Ireland and Counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo. Provision for the new programme is included in the January 2020 Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK, and in the accompanying Political Declaration, as well as in the December 2020 EU-UK Joint Declaration on Participation in Union Programmes and Access to Programme Services.
Programme development for PEACE PLUS is now well advanced. This process is being led by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), a North South Implementation body under the joint sponsorship of my Department and the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland. SEUPB is being assisted by a cross-sectoral Programme Development Steering Group, consisting of representatives of both governments as well as of local government, trade union, business, environment, community and voluntary sector, rural and equality sectors.
On foot of extensive public consultation and engagement with government departments North and South, SEUPB has prepared a draft programme which covers six thematic areas of cross-border activity:
- Building Peaceful and Thriving Communities;
- Delivering Economic Regeneration and Transformation;
- Empowering and Investing in Our Young People;
- Healthy and Inclusive Communities;
- Supporting a Sustainable Future;
- Building and Embedding Partnership and Collaboration.
The draft PEACE PLUS programme is now open to further public consultation for a two month period, which will conclude on 12 May 2021. I would encourage all stakeholders to make their views known during this consultation period. Following the public consultation and any necessary revisions arising from it, it is intended to bring the draft programme for approval by both the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, followed by submission to the European Commission for final approval.
Ireland has consistently advocated for as large and impactful a programme as possible in financial terms, especially in view of the twin challenges posed by Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. The final funding quantum for PEACE PLUS will be determined in the context of EU UK negotiations and a Financing Agreement between the EU, UK and Ireland. Funding will be provided by the European Union, the UK Government, the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive. However, the draft programme has been developed on the basis of a budget in the region of €1 billion.