On 8 February 2013 the European Council agreement on the MFF included provision for funding of €150 million towards a new PEACE Programme as part of the new EU Budget. This budget is subject to European Parliament agreement. The total size of the programme, including funding from Ireland and the UK, will depend on the outcome of programme planning.
The planning process for a possible successor Programme for PEACE III was initiated last April, when my Department and the Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel asked the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) to commence preparation of detailed programme proposals in close consultation with the relevant Government Departments. The programme preparation process began with a consultation process, including public consultation events organised by SEUPB across the eligible region.
The first consultation with stakeholders across the eligible regions (Northern Ireland/Border Region of Ireland/Western Scotland (for INTERREG only) ran from 28 August until 20 November 2012. Almost 1,000 people attended consultation events. A total of 173 responses have been received. The majority of responses relate to the PEACE Programme, with a total of 76 respondents answering the questions on this programme only. A total of 48 responses relate to the INTERREG Programme and 49 responses relate to both programmes.
The majority of these responses, a total of 103, were submitted by organisations from Northern Ireland, with 48 responses from Ireland and 13 responses from Scottish organisations. A total of 9 responses were received from cross border organisations. The responses received are from a range of organisations, with the highest number submitted by the local government sector, followed by the community and voluntary sector. Responses have also been received from political parties, government agencies, the education sector, youth sector, business organisations and current project partners.
On the 21st February 2013 the SEUPB published a summary of the responses received. The consultation responses will inform the drafting of the operational programmes. All responses received and the summary document are available on the SEUPB website at www.seupb.eu. Under the guidance of a Programme Development Steering Committee representing government departments, local representatives and social partners, the SEUPB will draft programme proposals and a further consultation period will then commence.