Northern Ireland news

EU 'should continue to fund' north's peace projects after Brexit, MEPs say

The EU should continue to support peace projects in the north after Brexit, MEPs have said. File picture by Stefan Rousseau, Press Association

EU funding for peace and and co-operation schemes should continue after Brexit, MEPs have agreed.

The European Parliament yesterday voted in favour of a resolution which said funding for key peace-building projects in the north "should be maintained at an adequate level" after the UK leaves the EU.

The projects include the EU's landmark PEACE programme and the Interreg scheme which promotes co-operation between different European regions.

European Parliament rapporteur Derek Vaughan said the EU had been instrumental in building peace in the north.

He said although several funding schemes, including for fisheries and rural development, will be scrapped after 2020, other projects should still be supported.

"There are also Interreg, and the PEACE Programme and these can - and should - remain, whatever happens post 2020," he said.

He added: "EU funds are seen as neutral... and are accepted by all communities and put to good use because they don't come from the UK, they don't come from the Irish Government, they come from the European Union".

A spokesman for the European Parliament said MEPs also want students from the north to continue to take part in Erasmus European study programmes after Brexit.

Since 1995, the EU has given more than £1.5 billion to peace and co-operation projects in the north and border areas in the Republic.

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said yesterday's vote was "a further indication of Europe's support for the north to have special status within the EU post Brexit".

She added: "The British government, and the Irish government, now need to show the same imagination and creativity and bring forward proposals which give effect to the democratic will of the people of the north to remain in the EU".

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