N. Ireland Politics

Brexit: EU-funded projects in Northern Ireland will be guaranteed, Treasury says

Londonderry's Peace Bridge Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Londonderry's Peace Bridge is one of the major projects in Northern Ireland that EU funding helped to build

EU structural and investment projects in Northern Ireland signed before the chancellor's autumn statement will be funded even if they continue after Brexit, the Treasury has said.

It has also indicated that EU payments to farmers will be upheld until 2020.

The Treasury statement comes after Northern Ireland's finance minister raised concerns that Stormont was not being consulted about future EU funds.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said the money was to be handed out between now and 2020.

He told an audience in Belfast that he did not believe the Treasury would underwrite half of peace and cross-border funding.

Bidding

But the Treasury has now said it will stand by structural and investment fund projects signed before November.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said the chancellor's pledge did not go far enough

Chancellor Philip Hammond also said universities bidding competitively for EU projects would still have their payments underwritten even if those projects continue after the UK leaves the EU.

Responding to Mr Hammond's announcement, Mr Ó Muilleoir said it did not go far enough.

"While the decision will help some applicants for EU funds, it will leave a question mark over scores of other vital projects and means potentially up to £300m of future funding is in peril," he said.

He added that he had spoken to Mr Hammond to ask that Northern Ireland "would not lose a penny of EU related funding streams".

Funding from the EU has helped to improve transport links between Belfast and Dublin and build Londonderry's Peace Bridge.

EU money has also been a major source of funding for peace-building and the voluntary sector in Northern Ireland.

Vital

Chancellor Philip Hammond said: "We recognise that many organisations across the UK, which are in receipt of EU funding, or expect to start receiving funding, want reassurance about the flow of funding they will receive.

"That's why I am confirming that structural and investment funds projects signed before the autumn statement will be guaranteed by the Treasury after we leave [the EU].

"The government will also match the current level of agricultural funding until 2020, providing certainty to our agricultural community, who play a vital role in our country."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Philip Hammond said the Treasury would guarantee funding for projects signed before his autumn statement

While the UK voted to leave the European Union by 52% to 48%, 56% of voters in Northern Ireland voted to remain.

Earlier this week, the region's first and deputy first ministers wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May to outline their concerns over the potential consequences of Brexit.

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