In a potential major boost to the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland, the President of the European Commission has indicated that funding for cross-border projects will continue after Brexit.
Jean-Claude Junker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg he could see “no more important use” of the European budget than maintaining the peace process in Ireland. The current peace funding stream is scheduled to continue until 2020.
The current €270m PEACE IV Programme is designed to support peace and reconciliation and has supported a wide range of voluntary activity in Northern Ireland and the border counties. The PEACE Programme was initially created in 1995 as a direct result of the EU’s desire to make a positive response to the paramilitary ceasefires of 1994.
According to the BBC, Mr Junker told members of the European Parliament (MEPs): “I see no more important use of our new budget than guaranteeing and financing the peace process in Ireland.
“This is an unconditional European commitment,” he added.
He said that the commission will propose an extension of funding for the next multi-annual financial framework in May. This could mean a new round of peace funding to last from 2020 until at least 2025.
Positive commitment by @JunckerEU confirming 'unconditional' plans for Northern Ireland peace funds in new EU budget cycle. This is welcome.
— Diane Dodds MEP (@DianeDoddsMEP) January 17, 2018
Mr Junker’s comments were welcomed by Gina McIntyre, the chief executive of the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB). “This underlines the importance and significance that EU funding has had in positively transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the region,” she said.
Photo: Jean-Claude Junker by European Parliament on Flickr.com. © European Union 2017 – European Parliament
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