I propose to take Questions Nos. 284 and 285 together.
The Government is cognisant of the importance of the cross-border PEACE and INTERREG programmes and their invaluable contribution to economic and social cohesion in the border counties of Ireland and in Northern Ireland. The current programmes, PEACE IV and INTERREG VA, cover the 2014-2020 programming period and are progressing well, with both programmes almost fully committed.
I am very pleased therefore that arrangements are in place, covering both a deal and a no-deal scenario, to allow for the current round of programmes to continue unchanged to their normal completion dates.
The draft Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK would enable the current PEACE and INTERREG programmes to continue without interruption or amendment up until their normal closure.
In the event of no agreement, the EU has adopted a special Regulation that will enable the two programmes to continue to be financed from the EU budget, under current management structures and with funding levels unchanged.
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 in the 2021-2027 programming period. I warmly welcome this proposal which is being advanced as part of the ongoing work on the draft cohesion policy regulations and the Multiannual Financial Framework. I also welcome the firm and reiterated commitment of the UK Government to the PEACE PLUS programme.