I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 191 together.
As I am sure Deputies will agree, the EU-funded INTERREG and PEACE programmes continue to act as important drivers of regional development for the Border region of Ireland and for Northern Ireland.
INTERREG programmes funded by the EU exist to address the challenges encountered by border regions. In the case of Ireland, an additional and unique programme, the PEACE programme, addresses the challenges in the region arising from conflict.
The current INTERREG programme has a total value of €282 million and is aimed at promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion. The current PEACE programme has a total value of €270 million and aims to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border counties of Ireland.
Ever since the UK referendum on EU membership the Government's clear and consistent position has been that it is committed to the successful implementation of the current programmes but also to a successor post-2020. To that end, my officials and I have been working closely with the European Commission at all levels to ensure this important source of funding for the Border region continues post-Brexit and we continue to do so.
I am pleased, therefore, that the Government’s ambition for the programmes was reflected in last December’s EU-UK joint report on Brexit in which both parties undertook to honour their commitments to the PEACE and INTERREG programmes under the current multi-annual financial framework, MFF, and to examine the possibilities for future support favourably. This was matched by a commitment from the Commission to propose the continuation of the programmes in its proposal for the next MFF covering the period 2021-2027.
This has happened, and I warmly welcome the Commission’s proposal for a special new PEACE PLUS programme, which will build on and continue the work of both PEACE and INTERREG.