The INTERREG Maritime Initiative under which the project mentioned has been approved for funding is a joint Ireland/Wales one under the European Union's Initiative for the development of cross-Border regions throughout the European Union. The lead Departments for this particular programme are our Department of Finance and the Welsh Office. Most of the funding involved comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with an element of European Social Fund (ESF) involved in its Subprogram 2 which deals with Human Resources Development. My Department has responsibility for the draw-down of the ESF element on the Irish side, while the United Kingdom's Department for Education and Employment has a similar role in respect of the ESF component of the programme on the Welsh side.
Delays have been experienced in drawing down funds under this programme. The EU procedures for the drawdown of ESF funds for cross-Border initiatives require that both sets of national authorities apply separately for funding advances to the European Commission. Both applications are processed jointly by the Commission and any problem that may arise in either application has the effect of automatically delaying action on both. To eliminate the difficulties that had arisen, my Department received the approval of the joint Irish/Welsh Monitoring Committee to present a revised financial plan to the Commission. The European Commission has recently accepted the new financial plan and in line with EU procedures my Department immediately applied for funds. It is expected that these will arrive in my Department in the next two months.
Since my Department is quite aware of the impact of the delays here on the Irish project promoters it had attempted to find an interim solution in this case without success. In the circumstances I can only assure the Deputy that every effort is continuing to get the allocated funds to the projects on the earliest date possible.