People in Border areas are asked to help shape new EU programme

Peace Plus scheme could be worth over €600m for the North and six counties in Republic

A view of the Hands Across The Divide sculpture in Derry, Northern Ireland. File photograph: Mary Turner/Bloomberg

A view of the Hands Across The Divide sculpture in Derry, Northern Ireland. File photograph: Mary Turner/Bloomberg

 

People in Border areas are being asked to help shape a future EU programme expected to be worth more than €600 million.

The EU’s Peace Plus programme, which will run from 2021-2027, will fund activities related to peace and reconciliation and to economic and social development in Northern Ireland and in the Border counties of the Republic.

A series of stakeholder information events will be held on the programme in each of Northern Ireland’s six counties, as well as in counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo, in January and February.

The aim of the programme is to improve the lives of people on both sides of the Border.

Objectives could include boosting innovation capacity; promoting a greener, lower-carbon Europe; enhancing mobile and IT connectivity; fostering sustainable and integrated development; improving employment opportunities; increasing access to quality healthcare and education, and reducing marginalisation through improved housing and services.

According to the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), which will be responsible for delivering the new programme, the information events will explain these different policy objectives and provide an overview of the programme implementation process.

Formal responses can be given via a survey, which is available until February 25th.

Peace Plus will replace the work of the Peace and Interreg schemes, which over 20 years have provided approximately € 3.4 billion in EU funding to tens of thousands of projects on both sides of the Border.

Its value is likely to be in excess of €600 million.

Government support

The new programme has been written into the post-2020 EU regulations for the next programming period, and is supported by both the British and Irish governments.

It will cover Northern Ireland and the Republic’s six Border counties and can include organisations based outside this area as long as they make a contribution to the objectives of the programme and benefit the citizens living within the eligible region.

The chief executive of SEUPB, Gina McIntyre, said: “Peace Plus is a new EU cross-Border programme that will contribute to a more prosperous and stable society in Northern Ireland and the Border region of Ireland.

“It reflects the European Union’s, along with Ireland and the UK government’s, continued commitment to support ongoing peace and reconciliation activities and the future socio-economic and environmental development of the region.”

“We are delighted to be able to start the design of the new programme and would encourage everyone who has been previously involved, or not, to come to our events and share their views,” she added.

Full details of the events, and information on how to respond to the Peace Plus programme, are available at https://www.seupb.eu/peaceplus.