Minister Howlin welcomes new North South Cooperation Programmes. €550 million to be invested in the region over the next seven years

Issued 22 January 2016

The Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, today (22 January 2015) hailed the launch of the new EU funded PEACE and INTERREG programmes for the border region of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the west of Scotland. 

EU funding for the new PEACE Programme was secured at the initiative of the Irish Government. 

Minister Howlin said: 

“I am delighted that the Irish Government was able to secure the EU funding that forms the basis for the new PEACE Programme, which will build on the success of previous programmes. Together with the new INTERREG Programme, it will see investment of more than half a billion Euro in the region over the next seven years in support of a range of exciting cross-border initiatives.”

The Minister was taking part in the launch of the cross border cooperation programmes at the Skainos Centre in East Belfast.  Also taking part in the launch were Northern Ireland Finance & Personnel Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA, and Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment & Cities, Keith Brown MSP.

Minister Howlin noted that since 1991 successive INTERREG Programmes have contributed a total of €850 million to the economies of Northern Ireland, the border region of Ireland and, since 2007, Western Scotland, while the PEACE Programmes have collectively contributed almost €2 billion to Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland since 1995.

The Programmes are managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, one of the North South bodies established under the Good Friday Agreement. 

Speaking at the launch event, SEUPB Chief Executive Gina McIntyre said: 

“A whole new generation of young people have grown up since the first PEACE Programme was created. As such, PEACE IV will have a strong youth focus with approximately €100 million worth of funding being allocated to children through shared education and youth development initiatives.

The new INTERREG VA Programme will support Research and Innovation to help create a more vibrant cross-border economy. It will also invest in sustainable transport, environmental protection initiatives, as well as new approaches to transforming health and social care.”

Also speaking at the event European Commission representative Deša Srsen, said:

“There is now a need to start with concrete programme implementation in the context of a new, reformed and more strategic Cohesion policy for 2014-2020. The Commission is looking forward to seeing the first projects approved and contributing to improving the life of the citizens and businesses living and working in the border regions."

Noting that both programmes comprise a wide-range of projects, from large scale investments to small scale, grass roots projects, Minister Howlin said:

“I would like to pay tribute to the many individuals, groups and organisations who are responsible for making the programmes work on the ground.   Without them we would not be celebrating the success of the programmes today.”