I propose to take Questions Nos. 153 and 154 together.
As the Deputy is aware, the two cross-border cooperation programmes, PEACE and INTERREG, are important drivers of economic and social cohesion in the border region of Ireland and in Northern Ireland.
The current €270 million 2014-20 PEACE programme (PEACE IV) supports peace and reconciliation via projects in the areas of Shared Education; Children and Young People; Shared Spaces and Services; and Building Positive Relations. As of 30 Septembe 2019, PEACE IV funding is fully committed, with €270.3 million allocated to 95 projects across the programme.
The 2014-20 INTERREG programme (INTERREG VA) has a total value of €283 million and supports cross-border projects under the following themes: Research and Innovation; Environment; Sustainable Transport; and Health and Social Care. As of 30 September 2019, the Programme is 98.4% committed, with a total value of €278.1 million allocated to 32 projects across the programme.
Both Programmes are progressing well, and are supported by the relevant sectoral Departments, North and South.
In terms of the UK’s exit from the EU:
The draft October 2019 Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU would enable the programmes to continue without interruption or amendment up to their normal closure in 2025-26.
In the event that the UK leaves without an agreement, a contingency Regulation will enable the two programmes to continue, financed from the EU budget, with funding levels unchanged and using current management structures. The Regulation came into force on 28 March 2019, but will not apply unless and until a UK departure from the EU without agreement. It essentially provides for business as usual.
In relation to the 2021-2027 programming period, the European Commission proposed a special new PEACE PLUS programme to continue and build on the work of both the PEACE and INTERREG programmes , as part of its post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and Cohesion Policy proposals.
The programme development process for PEACE PLUS is now underway, led by SEUPB in close partnership with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in Ireland and the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland. The process is supported by a cross-sectoral Programme Development Steering Group comprising of government departments, local government, business, trade union, environment, rural, equality, and community and voluntary sector representative organisations.
SEUPB has conducted initial engagements with Government Departments, North and South and a range of relevant organisations. A wider stakeholder engagement process is scheduled to run from December 2019 to February 2020, with a public event planned for each county in Northern Ireland and the Irish border counties.