Northern Ireland should continue getting EU regional funds post-2020, when the Brexit transition period ends, the Regional Development Committee stated today (Wednesday, June 20).

Enabling Northern Ireland to continue participating in the EU’s general cohesion funds after 2020 would be of benefit to its economic and social development – particularly in disadvantaged and rural areas, the committee MEPs noted.

To sustain peace and ensure the region’s stability, EU-supported cross-border and inter-community schemes – the Northern Ireland Peace Programme and the Interreg programmes – should also continue after 2020, the committee members add in the report.

EU funding for Northern Ireland should stay at its current level after 2020 and the EU should continue to reach out to both communities there, by playing an active role in managing it, says the approved text.

Finally, MEPs consider it essential that the people of Northern Ireland – and in particular young people – should continue to have access to economic, social and cultural exchanges across Europe.

The resolution still needs to be approved by the European Parliament as a whole, which is most likely to take place after the summer break, according to the MEPs. It will be forwarded to the council and commission, the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive and the governments and parliaments of EU member states and their regions.

Northern Ireland, one of the EU’s poorest regions according to the report, benefits from the following schemes:

  • European Regional Development Fund; this aims to make SMEs more competitive, with a total budget of €522,091,481 for 2014-2020 – of which the EU contributes €313,254,888;
  • European Social Fund improves skills to reduce unemployment. Its total budget is €513,382,725 for 2014-2020, of which the EU contributes €205,353,090;
  • European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development modernises farms and agri-food businesses, with a total budget of €760,100,000 for 2014-2020, of which the EU contributes €228,400,000;
  • European Maritime and Fisheries Fund improves fishing vessels and fish farming, its total budget is €18,310,000 for 2014-2020, of which the EU contributes €13,730,000;
  • Northern Ireland Peace Programme, which focuses on reinforcing peace and stability by fostering reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border region, has a total budget of €229,169,320, of which the EU contributes €229,169,320); and
  • Interreg programmes for cross-border job-creation and transport projects with adjoining parts of the Republic of Ireland and western Scotland. This has a total budget worth €282,761,998, of which the EU contributes €240,347,606.