Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Questions (78)

Brendan Smith


78. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the schemes and projects on a cross-Border basis that will be funded in 2019; if he is satisfied with the structures in place to ensure the continuation of cross-Border development in conjunction with the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2978/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Deputy will be aware of the important contribution that the EU-funded North South programmes, PEACE and INTERREG, make to building peace and social and economic cohesion in the border region of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The current 2014-2020 PEACE IV and INTERREG VA programmes will invest over half a billion euro in the region and are progressing well.

The two programmes are managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, a North South implementation body established under the Good Friday Agreement. My Department is joint sponsor Department for the SEUPB, together with the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland, while various sectorial Departments, north and south, act as accountable Departments for PEACE and INTERREG funding.

The INTERREG VA Programme, which totals €282 million, is now 97% committed , with funding approved for 32 projects under the themes of research and innovation, environment, sustainable transport, and health and social care. Activity will be delivered across all themes in 2019.

The PEACE IV Programme has a total value of €270 million and has now reached 99% commitment, with 95 projects approved for funding. Projects under the themes of Shared Education, Children and Young People, Shared Spaces and Services, and Building Positive Relations, including operations supported under Local Authority Peace Action Plans, will all be active in 2019.

The Irish Government has been clear and consistent in its commitment to the successful implementation of the current PEACE and INTERREG programmes and to a successor programme post-2020.

The draft Withdrawal Agreement will enable the current programmes to be completed without interruption or amendment. In the event of no agreement, the European Commission has brought forward a proposal, which I welcome, that will enable the two programmes to continue on the basis of the current management structures. This proposal is progressing through the legislative process at a European level with a view to it being entering into force by 29 March 2019.

I also welcome the Commission's proposal for a special new PEACE PLUS programme to build on and continue the work of both PEACE and INTERREG post-2020.