Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Questions (248)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

248. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the way in which it is planned that northern parts of Ireland and Northern Ireland will benefit from the next allocation of structural funds; the EU financial assistance in cross-border infrastructure plans in place or being developed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31590/20]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

In May 2018 the European Commission included a special new cross-border EU funding programme, PEACE PLUS, in its proposals for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework and EU Cohesion policy for the 2021-27 period. The proposal for this special new programme demonstrates the importance placed by the EU and by the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom on the strengthening of peace and reconciliation and the enhancement of social and economic capital in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland.

PEACE PLUS will cover an eligible area of Northern Ireland and Counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo. It will continue and build upon on the work of the current PEACE and INTERREG cross-border programmes to support North-South cooperation under the Good Friday Agreement. Provision for the PEACE PLUS programme is included in the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK, and in the Political Declaration.

The development of the draft PEACE PLUS Programme is being led by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), in close cooperation with my Department and by the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland. SEUPB is also supported by a Programme Development Steering Group, which consists of representatives of both governments as well as of local government, business, trade union, community and voluntary sector, environment, rural and equality organisations.

Programme development is now well advanced. An extensive public consultation exercise was carried out by SEUPB between December 2019 and February 2020, which included 16 public events, held in every county in the eligible area, and the collection of over 300 written submissions. SEUPB has also been working closely with government departments from both jurisdictions to identify areas of potential cross-border activity under PEACE PLUS.

While the detailed drafting of the programme is still underway, the PEACE PLUS programme will allow for very significant cross-border investment over the 2021-27 programming period, across a wide range of areas such as enterprise, research and innovation, infrastructure, health and rural development.