I thank the committee for the invitation to appear before it today. I am delighted to have the opportunity to update the committee on the development of the EU programmes. The role of the Special EU Programmes Body is to manage the EU PEACE and INTERREG programme funds in the region. We are also directly responsible for the grant-making of those programmes. The EU programmes have been implemented on a cross-Border basis for more than 25 years in the case of INTERREG and more than 21 years in the case of the PEACE programme, with €1.1 billion going to the INTERREG programme and €2.2 billion going to the PEACE programme. That includes the current allocations.
The significant impact of these EU cross-Border programmes cannot be underestimated. The benefits that they have had in the region are far-reaching beyond the financial contributions. I could not do justice to the impact of those programmes in these few minutes. Many hundreds of thousands of people have benefited from those programmes directly and indirectly. Cross-Border co-operation was taking place prior to the Good Friday Agreement and the EU programmes. However, the establishment within the Good Friday Agreement of the Special EU Programmes Body with an all-island remit enabled a co-ordinated regional approach to cross-Border co-operation within the context of the EU programmes. The programmes provide financial support for a structured approach to cross-Border activity and establishing cross-Border networks and relationships. Undoubtedly, that may not have happened because of other pressures on public expenditure environments and competing spending priorities. When I talk about the region with regard to these programmes, I am referring to Northern Ireland, the six Border counties of Ireland and, in the case of the INTERREG programme, western Scotland, which joined that programme in 2007.
The PEACE programme was established in 1995 and was a direct result of the EU's desire to support the efforts being made on this island to build a peaceful and stable society in Northern Ireland. We have learned many lessons. The programmes have evolved and changed over the programme period in 21 years, the budgets have reduced and we have learned some lessons. In the PEACE III programme, which has just concluded and is in the process of closing, there are some key figures that relate to its benefits. A total of 200,000 people attended events that addressed sectarianism, racism and conflict resolution workshops; 44,000 attended events to assist victims and survivors; 7,000 people received trauma counselling; and 136,000 have so far enjoyed the very magnificent shared spaces that have been developed to create, build and foster cross-community links. The committee may be aware of some of those examples, such as the Castle Saunderson scouting project in Cavan, the Peace Link, a cross-Border and cross-community sports complex in County Monaghan, the Peace Bridge in Derry-Londonderry, and the Girdwood project in north Belfast, a new state-of-the-art community centre hub built on an interface area at the side of an old army barracks. It recently played host to the President of Colombia on short visit to the UK, who was very interested to hear about the benefits of the PEACE programme.
The INTERREG programmes throughout Europe offer support on a strategic cross-Border basis to create a more prosperous and sustainable region. They have a focus on the well established and recognised needs of border regions. Some of the projects funded in our last INTERREG programme included the North West Regional Science Park in Derry-Londonderry and also the extension of the Letterkenny IT campus. Those projects help to form cross-Border networks between local firms. There was also the refurbishment of the Drogheda viaduct and the upgrading of enterprise. A sum of €30 million went into a cross-Border health project entitled "Putting Patients, Clients and Families First", which assisted all of the residents in the eligible area to have access to quality health care.
Some of the numbers in INTERREG are also significant, with more than 120,000 benefiting from cross-Border support in areas of health, rural development, enterprise and tourism. A total of 3,500 businesses were assisted to promote innovation and creative activities, with 1,300 of those SMEs directly collaborating on cross-Border ventures. A total of 15,000 people have been involved in attending workshops to look at solutions to common problems in the Border area, such as joined-up delivery, improvements to service and access to services available. We also had a large telecommunications project funded, which linked Northern Ireland and Ireland with Canada, America and parts of Europe, and other projects examining renewable energy and environmental sustainability.
Part of our role in the Special EU Programmes Body is also our statutory role to advise the North-South Ministerial Council and finance Departments in negotiations with the EU Commission on future funding rounds. SEUPB was also asked to develop the 2014-2020 programmes by undertaking consultation with all relevant interest groups and stakeholders, taking account of the policy objectives of the EU and how best to fulfil the policy objectives of the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive by complementing but not duplicating those services and reflecting the needs of the target areas. In line with the Europe 2020 strategy, all programmes will focus on a narrow range of activities to ensure that the funding will bring about significant change in the region. The content for those programmes, therefore, has been agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Irish Government, the European Commission and, in the case of INTERREG, the Scottish Government as well.
The result of the UK referendum on 24 June had an impact on the delivery of those programmes. I know that the committee is well aware of that impact. Many complex financial and legal issues had to be addressed. With the substantial assurance received from the UK Treasury in October and the work of the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, we are now in a very strong position and are making offers to projects that will last for many years to come. We have been issuing letters of offer over the past few weeks. I would like to take this opportunity to put on record our thanks to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe, and Minister for Finance in Northern Ireland, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, and their officials who have worked so closely with us over these challenging few months.
The INTERREG VA programme, which we are now embarking on, is worth €283 million. It has four core objectives that we are funding. In the area of research and innovation, there is €53 million allocated to increase the capacity for cross-Border research within two target areas: health and life sciences, and renewable energy. There is a further €18.7 million to increase the capacity of 1,400 SMEs and micro-businesses in the region that are engaged in cross-Border research and innovation activity aimed at the development of new products, processes and tradeable services. Environmental initiatives will benefit from almost €85 million to protect and restore biodiversity and invest in the water sector, promoting cross-Border co-operation to facilitate the recovery of selected protected habitats and species and the development of common approaches to the management of the marine environment. A sum of €47 million is allocated to sustainable transport in order to provide support for greater connectivity between the three jurisdictions and to promote cross-Border, inter-modal and sustainable mobility in the region. Health and social care is also a prominent feature of this programme. A total of €63 million has been allocated to that. With cross-Border co-operation, we will see 50,000 benefiting from those essential services that we intend to support in the region.
The PEACE IV programme is worth €270 million and provides opportunity for continued EU assistance to help to address the peace and reconciliation needs of the region. The Irish Government played a pivotal role in securing the PEACE IV programme, which we are now implementing. It has four core themes, with a strong emphasis on supporting young people to develop their skills to contribute to a more cohesive society. Shared education has been allocated €35 million. The majority of schools in the region remain single-identity. The project will see 144,000 students engaged in direct and sustained curriculum-based contact between pupils and teachers from all backgrounds.
A sum of €37 million has been allocated to children and young people to form positive and effective relationships with others of different backgrounds. This will target young people aged between 14 and 24 who are disadvantaged, excluded or marginalised and who have deep social and emotional needs and are at risk of becoming involved in anti-social behaviour. We plan to fund at least eight capital projects to the value of €53 million, creating a more cohesive society through the increased provision of shared civic spaces and services. In recognition of the needs of those who have suffered in the trauma of the conflict, we are also allocating €17.6 million to the capacity of services to meet the needs of victims and survivors. It will add value by investing in cross-Border health and well-being services that develop proven expertise within the region and increase the capacity and the quality of care in the sector for victims and survivors and their families.
One of the successes of the previous PEACE programme was the involvement of local councils across the region. Initiatives to address local needs will be directly delivered through them, with almost one third of the programme being delivered in that way. We have invited local authorities across Northern Ireland and along the Border in the Republic to develop a local action plan for their area. They will consider specifically local needs in respect of shared services and spaces, children and young people and building positive relations. Each local authority has been given details of the indicative budget. For example, Louth County Council has been allocated €3.5 million and Monaghan County Council just over €3 million.
A sum of €16.4 million has been allocated for the objective of building positive relations at a regional level. This objective will support groups particularly impacted by the legacy of the conflict. The support will be used to fund up to 20 regional level projects that will result in meaningful, purposeful and sustained contact between persons from different communities. Our main priority is to ensure those programmes are allocated in full to good quality projects which will deliver on the objectives we have set out. There always have been challenges in the Border region and that is why we implement the INTERREG programme, and those challenges will be exacerbated in the context of Brexit in whatever form it may take. We will monitor that closely in respect of our projects to see if there will be an impact on their delivery because they have been funded for several years. We are also spending time on proactively undertaking work on future funding post-2020 and what we can do to see if we can remain involved in some EU programmes and minimise the impact of Brexit in the region in the context of EU funds.