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Written Statement - European Commission approval of the Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme 2014-2020

Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Government Business

Today I am pleased to announce that the European Commission has approved the Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme 2014-2020 worth a total investment of €100 million (EU funds €75m).

It follows WEFO’s development of the programme with Irish and Welsh partners, including the Southern Regional Assembly and Ireland’s Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and extensive negotiations with the European Commission.

Linking the west coast of Wales  with the south-east of Ireland , the new programme will present significant opportunities for stakeholders to work together and will help strengthen economic links on both sides of the Irish Sea.

The programme will focus on the following investment areas:

Cross-border Innovation

  • Increasing innovation within SMEs, including social enterprises;
  • Marine and environmental science (including renewable energy); food and drink; and life sciences.

Adaptation of the Irish Sea and Coastal Communities to Climate Change

  • Preserving and enhancing the marine and coastal environment;
  • Commissioning research, sharing existing research and expertise, monitoring impacts and increasing capacity and knowledge of climate change adaptation with the focus on the Irish Sea and the region’s coastal communities.

Cultural and Natural Resources and Heritage, with a focus on tourism

  • Capitalising on the strengths of the unique, shared natural and cultural heritage and the maritime and coastal character of Ireland and Wales;  
  • Increasing visitor numbers to coastal communities, in turn delivering sustainable economic growth.

Given the maritime nature of the border between Ireland and Wales, the benefits which can be derived from the Irish Sea will be a central focus for all programme investments.

The new Ireland Wales Programme will build on the success of previous EU investments across Ireland and Wales, including projects like Menter Iontach Nua, which is helping to improve the innovation and entrepreneurial skills of leaders of social enterprises. One such social enterprise is KIM Inspire, a successful enterprise which provides courses, training, drop-in sessions and volunteering opportunities to women with mental health problems, which I will be visiting in Holywell today (19 February).  

A launch event for new Ireland Wales Programme will be held next month (26 March) at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, and I am delighted that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr Brendan Howlin, T.D, will be able to join me and Irish, Welsh and EU stakeholders to celebrate this new EU investment.

Minister Howlin said of the European Commission’s approval of the Ireland Wales Programme:

“I am delighted that we have secured European Commission approval for the new Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme. This new €100m programme will invest in projects supporting innovation in technologies, products, processes and services and will benefit coastal communities.

Eligible projects will also address climate change adaptation relating to the Irish Sea and will enhance the shared cultural and natural heritage that Ireland and Wales enjoy and thereby increase visitors to both regions.  

As a Minister from the region I am pleased that each project supported by this new 
investment will aim to increase jobs and growth, will have a high social impact and will advance social and economic cohesion across the Ireland Wales maritime border.”

WEFO is the Managing Authority for the new programme, and preparatory work on the delivery arrangements include the composition of the Programme Monitoring Committee which will be concluded within the coming weeks.