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Cohesion policy in the north of Ireland and the Irish border region

Question écrite de Mme Martina ANDERSON - Commission européenne

Question de Mme Martina ANDERSON,

Diffusée le 8 février 2018

Subject: Cohesion policy in the north of Ireland and the Irish border region

In the north of Ireland and in the Irish border region, EU cohesion policy funds have been vital for regional development, social inclusion and sustainable development. Through the PEACE programme, these funds have also played an important role in fostering the Irish peace process.

In 2019, Britain is due to leave the EU - and threatens to take the north of Ireland out of the EU as well. Amongst other things, this will have a negative impact on the economy of the north of Ireland, and of the island of Ireland as a whole. It will also disproportionately affect vulnerable border communities.

1. Can the Commission outline the benefits that funds delivered under EU cohesion policy have brought to the north of Ireland and the border region?

2. Can the Commission give an assessment of the likely impact on the north of Ireland and the Irish border region from a loss of such funding due to Brexit?

3. Is the Commission giving consideration to continued access for the north of Ireland to cohesion policy funding in the post-2020 funding period, so as not to squander the important gains built up over decades of financial and social investment?

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 8 mai 2018

Answer given by President Juncker on behalf of the Commission

(9 May 2018)

Under the European Territorial Cooperation heading, Northern Ireland participates in two cross-border programmes with Ireland, namely PEACE and Interreg, with the latter also including part of the West of Scotland.

Over the course of four programming periods, the PEACE programme has contributed significantly to the process of Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland (EUR 1.5 billion of EU contributions since 1995). A wide range of projects have been financed, from large-scale regeneration and infrastructure projects, such as the iconic PEACE Bridge in Derry/Londonderry, to small-scale, grassroots projects with strong engagement of local communities. A wide range of tools have been used, such as digital media, sport, trauma counselling, historical enquiries, bricks and mortar to build shared spaces where communities can live, learn and socialise, free from prejudice, hate and intolerance.

The EU has also supported cross-border cooperation through the Interreg programme for Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland since 1991 and brought in approximately EUR 1.13 billion into the region. The fifth generation foresees a real and lasting change in terms of Research and Innovation for cross-border enterprise development; Environmental initiatives; Sustainable Transport projects; and Health and Social Care services on a cross-border basis.

Studies have shown that through the programmes the communities have established lasting partnerships across the UK-Ireland border. In the long-term, the absence of EU programmes could diminish the strategic impact of cross-border cooperation.

This is the reason why, in its communication COM(2017) 784 and in agreement with para 55 of the Joint Report of 8 December 2017, the Commission stated that ‘Cross-border programmes benefitting North/South cooperation are of great value’ and that it ‘is of the opinion that the PEACE and Interreg programmes, to which the United Kingdom is a partner, should continue beyond the current programming period’ and intends to propose their continuation, ‘based on their existing management structures, in its proposal for the next Multi-annual Financial Framework, foreseen for May 2018’.

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