Friday, June 03, 2005

Peace II Extension: Update

An official communique from the EU Commission Office in Northern Ireland reports that the extension provides an additional EUR 144 million of funding to support the PEACE Programme for 2005 and 2006, bringing the total value of the Programme to EUR 852 million for the period 2000-2006.Danuta Hübner, the EU Commissioner for Regional Affairs said: “I am delighted to be in Belfast today to confirm the extension of EU support for PEACE which will allow the programme’s vital work to continue and to be consolidated. The European Union understands that economic and social development in support of peace and reconciliation at grassroots level is not a short term process. The Programme provides real added-value in bringing communities together to address shared economic and social problems and opportunities. In face of the current difficulties in the peace process, this decision demonstrates the continued solidarity and support of the European Union towards permanent peace in the region” (see the whole communique in the Comments section). Although Jim Allister said that the Peace Fundings were on probation, Jim Nicholson welcomed the extension 'which was agreed over 12 months ago. He said that "while the distribution of funds may have been imperfect, I will be placing pressure on both the government and the Commission to ensure the equal distribution of funding in the future. We are now in the process of negotiating further funding for 2006-2012. It will be difficult for Northern Ireland to achieve what it has in the past as 78% of the EU's Regional funds are earmarked to go to the 10 new Member States. I will however continue to fight for a fair and equal share of EU money for Northern Ireland." Baibre de Brun welcomed the extension of the funds and added that "Sinn Féin believes that the future success of any PEACE III programme will be in its ability to take on board the thoughts and concerns of grassroots organizations and community groups and I call for their full involvement in the design and implementation of funding programmes. Future funding should be directed to the twin goals of reconciliation and social inclusion, in order to combat the legacy of the conflict, particularly for those most marginalised in recent decades."

3 Comments:

Blogger Thomas said...

Here is the official communique from the office of the EU Commission in Northern Ireland:
Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for regional policy, today signed the operational programme which extends EU support for the peace process in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland until 2006. The extension provides an additional EUR 144 million of funding to support the PEACE Programme for 2005 and 2006, bringing the total value of the Programme to EUR 852 million for the period 2000-2006.

The launch took place in the presence of Lord Rooker, Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, and Brendan Smith, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, representing the Irish Government.

Before an invited audience, including Members of the European Parliament, Danuta Hübner said: “I am delighted to be in Belfast today to confirm the extension of EU support for PEACE which will allow the programme’s vital work to continue and to be consolidated. The European Union understands that economic and social development in support of peace and reconciliation at grassroots level is not a short term process. The Programme provides real added-value in bringing communities together to address shared economic and social problems and opportunities. In face of the current difficulties in the peace process, this decision demonstrates the continued solidarity and support of the European Union towards permanent peace in the region”.

On 13 October 2004 the Commission proposed the adoption of a package of instruments to ensure that additional EU funding for the PEACE Programme and International Fund for Ireland was provided until 2006, in this way aligning them to other Structural Fund programmes. The proposals followed the meeting of the European Council on 18 June 2004 which called on the Commission to examine the possibility of extending the PEACE Programme to 2006. EU support for the PEACE Programme was set to end in December 2004.

Following the Council of Minister’s approval of the PEACE extension on 24 January 2005, the Commission’s adoption of the operational programme marks the final step in completing the extension of the Programme to 2006. The revised operational programme strengthens the focus on reconciliation while paving the way for a simplified and more accessible programme, in accordance with the main recommendations of the mid-term evaluation, and the consultations carried out during the preparation of the extension.

After the formal launch, Commissioner Hübner visited two PEACE funded projects on the Springfield Road in Belfast to see the work of the programme at first hand. The Commissioner also took the opportunity to visit an International Fund for Ireland project on the Stewartstown Road, Belfast.

Background

The EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland was established in 1995. The current programme now covers the period 2000-2006. The programme aims to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society and to promote reconciliation in the region. The Programme is implemented through inclusive (cross-community), joint (North/South) and "bottom-up" delivery structures (locally-based partnerships). The Programme's total expenditure for the period 2000-2006 from all sources is estimated at EUR 852 million, of which the Structural Funds contribute EUR 597 million.

More than 5300 projects have been supported by the current PEACE Programme. All projects assisted under PEACE must demonstrate that they promote reconciliation and address the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict or take opportunities arising from peace. Some 15% of the resources of the programme are used for cross-border projects.

The European Union has also agreed an additional two years of support for the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), amounting to €15 million per year in 2005 and 2006. The IFI was established by the UK and Irish governments in 1986 with the objective of promoting economic and social advance and of encouraging contact, dialogue and reconciliation between unionists and nationalists throughout Ireland. Contributors to the Fund are the EU, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

6/03/2005 4:19 p.m.  
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