To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the authorities in Northern Ireland and with the EU Commission in relation to the proposed PEACE PLUS programme; the projected timeframe for its introduction; the measures that will be included in the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Irish Government has consistently maintained its strong commitment both to the full implementation of the current PEACE and INTERREG programmes and to a successor programme post-2020. My officials and I have worked to ensure that this important funding continues after Brexit.
I was pleased, therefore, that in May 2018, the European Commission included a proposal for a special new PEACE PLUS programme that will build on and continue the work of both PEACE and INTERREG in its proposals for 2021-2027 cohesion policy. 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.
The PEACE PLUS programme will cover the 2021-2027 programming period. My officials have already commenced initial work with their counterparts in Northern Ireland and in the Special EU Programmes Body on preparations for this new programme. Detailed development work will take place during 2019 and 2020. The draft programme will then be submitted to the European Commission for approval and the aim will to be for the programme to begin as soon as possible after the start of 2021.
The specific themes and activities to be supported in PEACE PLUS will be established during the detailed programme development process co-ordinated by the Special EU Programmes Body. This process will include comprehensive stakeholder engagement and public consultation. The themes selected will be in line with the policy objectives and the overall thematic areas set out in the cohesion policy regulations.