PEACE PLUS funding for Northern Ireland welcome, but further clarity required
16 May 2023
Initiatives under the PEACE PLUS Programme, the commitment to funding for Northern Ireland, and efforts to support peace and prosperity on the island of Ireland are all welcome, according to the House of Lords Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. However, the Government needs to provide further clarity on how the Programme will operate.
- Report: Scrutiny of International Agreements: PEACE PLUS Programme 2021–2027 Financing Agreement (HTML)
- Report: Scrutiny of International Agreements: PEACE PLUS Programme 2021–2027 Financing Agreement (PDF)
- Financing Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ireland, and the European Commission on the PEACE PLUS Programme 2021–2027, CP 823, March 2023
- Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland
In a report published today, the Sub-Committee scrutinises the Financing Agreement between the UK, Ireland, and the European Commission on the PEACE PLUS Programme 2021–2027, which was laid before Parliament as an international agreement for scrutiny under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRAG) process. The Sub-Committee draws the Agreement to the special attention of the House of Lords on the grounds that it is politically important and gives rise to notable and sensitive matters of public policy.
The PEACE PLUS Programme is the successor to the four PEACE Programmes in operation in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland since 1995. Managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), PEACE PLUS will target investment in six key thematic areas:
- building peaceful and thriving communities;
- delivering socio-economic regeneration and transformation;
- empowering and investing in young people;
- healthy and inclusive communities;
- supporting a sustainable and better-connected future; and
- building and embedding partnership and collaboration.
The Agreement defines the funding contributions from each of the PEACE PLUS Parties and manages the detail of how the UK’s funding contribution will be paid and administered.
The Sub-Committee welcomes the PEACE PLUS Programme, the commitment to funding for Northern Ireland, and efforts to support peace and prosperity on the island of Ireland more generally. It notes that the UK will contribute 75% of the €1.14 billion/£1.01 billion total budget, including €0.17 billion/£0.15 billion in co-financing from the Northern Ireland Executive, and that the rest of the budget will come from the Irish Government and the EU. It invites the Government to set out whether and on what basis it is content with this funding split. It also seeks clarity on what, if any, impact the Northern Ireland Budget statement 2023-23 will have on this funding.
The Sub-Committee expresses disappointment at the poor level of detail provided by the Government on the provisions of the Agreement on audits and review, the fight against irregularities, fraud and other criminal offences affecting the financial interests of the EU, and recovery and enforcement. The Committee notes the political sensitivities of these Articles for the UK, and in particular Northern Ireland, following UK withdrawal from the EU, including in the context of the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud body. The Sub-Committee seeks urgent clarity on the complex legal and constitutional questions that these provisions give rise to.