The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, has welcomed the submission of the new €1.1bn PEACE PLUS programme to the European Commission, ahead of its launch later this year.
On foot of approval by Government, by the Northern Ireland Executive and by the North South Ministerial Council in late 2021, the draft programme has now been formally submitted by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) to the Commission for its review and final approval. Commission approval and adoption of the programme is anticipated in the summer.
PEACE PLUS is a unique new cross-border EU programme for the island of Ireland. It will combine the previous INTERREG and PEACE cross-border funding strands into a cohesive new programme for the 2021-27 EU programming period. The new programme will support peace and prosperity across Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland (i.e. Counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo).
Combined financial commitments from the EU, the UK and Ireland provide for a total funding allocation for PEACE PLUS of around €1.1bn – more than twice the value of the current INTERREG and PEACE programmes combined, and an unprecedented investment in the history of EU cross-border programmes on the island of Ireland.
The development of PEACE PLUS has been led since 2018 by the SEUPB, a cross-border North South Implementation Body established under the Good Friday Agreement.
The SEUPB has worked closely with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland during this process, and has also been assisted by a cross-sectoral Programme Development Steering Group (PDSG). The PDSG is constituted on a cross-border basis and consists of representatives of central and local government, business, trade union, community and voluntary groups, environment, rural and equality organisations.
The content of the new programme has been shaped by extensive engagement and consultation, including close collaboration between government departments North and South to identify areas for cross-border partnership under PEACE PLUS, as well as two public consultations. The final programme has been structured around six thematic cross-border investment areas:
- Building Peaceful and Thriving Communities.
- Delivering Economic Regeneration and Transformation.
- Empowering and Investing in Our Young People.
- Healthy and Inclusive Communities.
- Supporting a Sustainable and Better Connected Future.
- Building and Embedding Partnership.
Full details on each investment area, including information for potential applicants, can be found at www.seupb.eu/peaceplus .
Programme launch and mobilisation are anticipated for summer 2022. In advance of this, the SEUPB is already preparing by providing pre-application support for prospective applicants under some of the first Calls for Application which will issue following launch.
Speaking about the programme, Minister McGrath said, “I’m very pleased to note the formal submission by the SEUPB of the draft PEACE PLUS programme to the European Commission. This is a key milestone in finalising this exciting new programme ahead of its rollout. The investment of some €1.1bn in support of shared peace and prosperity represented by PEACE PLUS is without precedent – the largest single programme in the history of cross-border EU programmes for the island of Ireland. This is a programme of magnitude, which will have an enduring legacy for communities on both sides of the border.”
“I want in particular to acknowledge the joint commitment of the EU, the UK and Ireland to PEACE PLUS throughout its development process since 2019. PEACE PLUS demonstrates our shared and ongoing commitment to fostering peace and reconciliation. I also want to commend the SEUPB, as well as our stakeholders on the Programme Development Steering Group, for their unstinting work to develop and finalise the new programme. I’m looking forward to the launch and mobilisation of PEACE PLUS in the coming months, and to the opening of the first Calls for Applications as programme rollout begins.”