Friday 19 April 2019

EU votes to protect cross-border industry

Mairead McGuinness.
Mairead McGuinness.

There was positive news from the European Parliament which voted last week to continue EU funding for cross-border projects on the island of Ireland, even in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

It involves Peace and INTERREG programmes, fisheries, transport and Erasmus.

Speaking following the decision Louth MSP Mairead McGuinness, first Vice-President of the European Parliament said while Ireland and the EU want the UK to leave with the Withdrawal Agreement, the vote was taken in preparation of a no deal.

'we have voted to maintain funding for EU cross-border programmes, including the PEACE IV Programme and INTERREG UK-Ireland (Ireland-Northern Ireland-Scotland). This will apply to the current EU funding period until the end of 2020,' said the Louth MEP.

'These programmes have been an essential support for ensuring a lasting peace in Northern Ireland and enabling cooperation across the border - a task that is made more urgent and more difficult arising from Brexit. Maintaining these programmes provides certainty that EU support for peace on the island of Ireland will continue regardless of the outcome of Brexit.'

The MEP said fisheries is one of the areas where the UK wants to take back full control as soon as possible. "The measures we have adopted today will help to mitigate the impact for Irish and EU fishers. They will be eligible for compensation under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to off-set some of the impact if UK waters are closed to EU fishermen in a no-deal scenario. Up to €1.1bn would be available in the 8 worst-affected member states.

'We have also voted to amend the Regulation on the Sustainable Management of the External Fleets - which offers to extend current arrangements with the UK until the end of 2019, based on fishing quotas agreed in December. This is dependent on the UK offering reciprocal arrangements. Member states would also be able to negotiate 'quota exchanges' with the UK, and about 1000 of these side deals currently exist between the UK and member states.'

"We have measures on basic air connectivity, basic road freight connectivity, and basic cross-border rail connectivity.

She said students who are currently completing Erasmus programmes in the UK - and UK students on Erasmus in the EU - will be able to complete their studies. 'Contingency measures for social security coordination will enable those who exercised their right to free movement within the Union before the withdrawal date, maintain their social security entitlements based on facts and events that occurred and periods of insurance, (self) employment or residence that were completed before the withdrawal date, when the UK was a member state of the EU."

d'Border county citizens are very aware of the positive impact that EU funding has had on the region in terms of peace, reconciliation, rebuilding infrastructure and supporting communities," the MEP said today. "There have been many wonderful local projects, funded under the EU PEACE and INTERREG programmes. Yet there is more to do. The need to continue peace and reconciliation work is even more acute in the context of Brexit.'

The Argus