As I am sure Deputy 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.
The Irish Government has been clear and consistent in its commitment to the successful completion of the current PEACE and INTERREG programmes and to a new programme post-Brexit. To that end my officials and I have engaged with the Commission at all levels.
I am pleased, therefore, that the draft Withdrawal Agreement would enable the two programmes to be completed without interruption or amendment. I am also pleased that, in the event of no agreement, the EU has now adopted a special regulation to allow the continuation of PEACE and INTERREG even in the event of a disorderly Brexit. This will provide confidence for those benefitting from the programmes that this important element of North South cooperation will continue to be financed from the EU budget, under current management structures and with funding levels unchanged, until the end of 2020.
As regards a future programme, the European Commission has responded to the Irish Government’s support for a future programme with a proposal for a special new PEACE PLUS programme that will build on and continue the work of PEACE and INTERREG into the future.