Wednesday 18 September 2019

EU pledges €550m of Border peace funds will remain in event of hard Brexit


The EU will continue to back Border regions
The EU will continue to back Border regions

Michael Cogley

The European Commission has adopted special regulation to ensure that more than €550m worth of EU funds designed to stimulate economic activity and enforce peace in the border regions will continue in spite of a disorderly Brexit.

The Irish arm of the Interreg programme is worth around €282m. Interreg is an EU-wide development fund aimed at supporting co-operation along both sides of bordering nations. The current round of Interreg expires in 2020.

Ireland also benefits from the Peace Programme, which is valued at €270m. The initiative was set up to promote peace and reconciliation from the years of 2014 to 2020 in Northern Ireland.

MEPs were tasked with determining the future of the funding after Britain's exit from the European Union.

Speaking in the Dail last week, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed that funding for both schemes will continue regardless of whether the UK departs with or without a deal.

"The Irish Government has been clear and consistent in its commitment to the successful completion of the current Peace and Interreg programmes and to a new programme post-Brexit," Donohoe said.

"I am pleased, therefore, that the draft Withdrawal Agreement would enable the two programmes to be completed without interruption or amendment. I am also pleased that, in the event of no agreement, the EU has now adopted a special regulation to allow the continuation of Peace and Interreg even in the event of a disorderly Brexit."

The Finance Minister was responding to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail TD Charlie McConalogue. Donohoe said the continuation of both schemes will provide confidence to those benefiting from them up until the end of next year.

"As regards a future programme, the European Commission has responded to the Irish Government's support for a future programme with a proposal for a special new Peace Plus programme that will build on and continue the work of Peace and Interreg into the future," the minister said.

Around €1.5bn has been spent on promotion cohesion and economic development in the North since 1995. UK authorities have also made commitments to continue to fund the schemes.

In January, the British government confirmed that it will spend £300m (€332m) supporting EU-backed peace projects in Northern Ireland as part of its commitments under Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal. UK funding for the schemes will be available until 2027.

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