EU structural and investment projects in Northern Ireland signed before the British chancellor of the exchequer’s autumn statement will be guaranteed after Brexit, the Treasury in London has said.
The current level of agricultural backing, which underpins the farming industry, will also be matched by the British government until 2020.
Europe’s programme for entrenching the peace process through community development is due to run until 2020. The future of a programme designed to pump €17 million into groups which help victims of the conflict had been in doubt, it has been claimed.
However, Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “We recognise that many organisations across the UK which are in receipt of EU funding, or expect to start receiving funding, want reassurance about the flow of funding they will receive.
“That’s why I am confirming that structural and investment funds projects signed before the autumn statement and Horizon research funding granted before we leave the EU will be guaranteed by the treasury after we leave.
Responding to Mr Hammond’s announcement, Finance minister Mairtin Ó Muilleoir said it did not go far enough.
Prior to the referendum, the European Union had agreed to contribute over €1.2 billion to Structural and Investment Fund programmes in the north scheduled to run between 2014 and 2020. This includes contributions to the cross border PEACE IV and INTERREG VA Programmes. The decision today not to underwrite that sum in relation to EU funds from now to 2020 is a setback to the economy and a failure by the British government to match European support for the peace process.
“Despite the promise of the British Prime Minister to act in the interests of all, there has been no attempt to consult with myself, the Executive or the Irish Government, about the best way forward in relation to European funds.
“While the decision to honour letters of offer issued up to November will help some applicants for EU funds, it will leave a question mark over scores of other vital projects and means potentially up to £300m of future funding is in peril.
More detail from Mairtin in Alan’s very informative post on NICVA’s Big Festival of Economics
I’m not clear whether Peace funding is regarded as “structural” from the European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF), and is included in this assurance, so separate statements on Peace IV may be needed. Perhaps a well-informed reader knows?
Since 1995 there have been three PEACE programmes, with a financial contribution of EUR 1.3 billion. While PEACE I (1995-1999) and PEACE II (2000-2006) received funding from all the Structural Funds, PEACE III (2007-2013) was funded solely by the European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF).
The PEACE IV programme has a total value of EUR 270 million. The ERDF contribution to the Programme is approximately EUR 229 million (85%), and EUR 41 million (15%) will come from match-funding (i.e. non-EU sources which may include national, regional and local government funding).
UK public spending in Northern Ireland is around £20 billion a year and of course dwarfs the useful EU contributions.