The European Parliament discussed the continuation of the PEACE and Interreg programmes after Brexit, as the EU Commission intends. MEPs agreed this is crucial to peaceful development in Northern Ireland.
According to a resolution, approved by 565 votes in favour, 51 against and 65 abstentions, EU regional funding should be maintained at an adequate level post-2020. EU programmes like PEACE are indispensable for the successful peace-building work to continue, they outline.
“Since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Northern Ireland has been on a path of peace and we should remember that along that path they have been helped by the European Union. Northern Ireland has benefited from various cohesion policy programmes: ERDF, ESF, the rural development plan, and also fisheries funding. Unfortunately, these are likely to go, post 2020. But there are also Interreg, and the PEACE Programme and these can – and should – remain, whatever happens post 2020, said EP rapporteur Derek Vaughan (S&D, UK) during the debate.”
According to a European Parliament press release, MEPs also want the EU to allow young people from Northern Ireland to benefit from Erasmus+ programmes even after Brexit, to enable them to study abroad.
In a separate report, The Independent noted that MEPs from both unionist and nationalist communities in Northern Ireland welcomed the report in a debate in the European Parliament.
The EU legislature’s gentle approach to Northern Ireland over Brexit appears to contrast with that of some British Brexiteers. The question of how to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland after the UK leaves has been the main stumbling block on signing a Brexit withdrawal agreement.