I thank the Chair, honourable members and dear colleagues. First, I offer my apologies on behalf of Commissioner Ferreira. Personal health-related issues have prevented her from being here today. The Commissioner asked me to stress, however, that she recognises the importance of the committee's work, and she is keen that we contribute to these discussions. Ms Ferreira is eager to meet the members in person and to travel to Ireland as soon as the conditions allow it. I thank the members for permitting me to speak in her place.
It is always a pleasure to discuss cohesion policy with Ireland. We have a long history of working together for the common European good. Ireland is a success case of cohesion policy and has converged greatly with Europe since its accession but, as with every other country, it also addresses the challenges of internal disparities and that is why we are here to support and help. This discussion is very timely as we are at the beginning of a new chapter of our history together, one which has opened this year with a new financial period and also with historical decisions which were taken last year as a reaction to the pandemic.
As the committee will be aware the European Union has been a project of solidarity between countries and peoples and cohesion policy has been a concrete expression of that solidarity, from which we all stand to gain. Solidarity also rhymes with self interest because in a union we are all better if everyone is better.
Today I would like to address two key expressions of European solidarity with the people of Ireland which are rooted in cohesion policy. First, there is the Brexit Adjustment Reserve. This is European solidarity in action with those suffering the economic and social fallout of Brexit. As the committee is aware the European Union did not choose or ask for Brexit but we have to deal with its consequences and the Brexit Adjustment Reserve is a sign of solidarity with those most impacted by Brexit. Since Ireland was precisely the member state most impacted, Ireland will get the most support of €1.16 billion, which is a little more than 20% of the overall reserve.
A particular consideration should be given for the fishing industry in the use of this reserve, but member states have some flexibility and discretion in investing these funds in the sectors and regions that have been most affected. Ireland will also be the first member state to receive prepayments under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve. Some €361 million will be disbursed before Christmas corresponding to the 2021 tranche and these funds will be disbursed in three tranches. We and our services are here to help Ireland with any and all practicalities that may be needed to ensure these investments reach all of those who need them most.
The second expression of European solidarity with Ireland, is the new PEACE PLUS programme. This is a unique programme, unique in its goal of promoting peace and reconciliation between the communities across the Border, in its successful history and track record of making a real difference on the ground and in the broad support it commands, not just across the communities of Northern Ireland, but also across the European Union, and even with the UK authorities. It is no secret that the post-Brexit relationship with the UK has not been as smooth as we would have wished. Discussions have been intense on a proper application of the withdrawal agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol but on the PEACE PLUS we have had good co-operation and a strong commitment from everyone involved to make this programme a continued success.
This is important because the situation on the ground has deteriorated and the PEACE PLUS programme is needed now more than ever. We need a grassroots approach which draws both communities together. The programme will be promoting economic prosperity to consolidate the progress made over the past 30 years and to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement. For that, seamless co-operation between the two sides of the Border is necessary. That is what we will be basically aiming at with the PEACE PLUS programme in the next number of years. The programme is ready with €1.1 billion of investment to promote peace, economic regeneration, empowering youth and promoting the green transition, among other things. We are quite satisfied with the preparation. There was a very good public consultation with thorough involvement of both communities on both sides of the Border. Now we must finalise the last details so that the programme can start on time in the first quarter of 2022.
Let me also highlight the contribution of cohesion policy for Ireland for the next years and financial period with a total of €1.3 billion, including this new Just Transition Fund which will support the midlands in transitioning out of peat extraction and peat for electricity generation.
Our discussions on the Partnership Agreement with the overall strategic orientation are ongoing and we hope that the funds can hit the ground in mid-2022.
I would like to finish with the words of an illustrious Irishman, James Joyce, who said:
I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday, or some previous day.
So, let us continue building on the solid ground established since Ireland’s accession and lay the basis today with the funds and opportunities made available from PEACE PLUS, the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the mainstream cohesion policy for successful and prosperous next generations of Irish citizens. I thank the committee very much.