Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Government Business
Today I am pleased to announce that the European Commission has agreed ‘in principle’ the Ireland Wales Co-operation programme 2014-2020 worth €100 million (ERDF €75m), with formal approval expected within the coming weeks.
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;
- Adaptation of the Irish Sea and Coastal Communities to Climate Change; and
- Cultural and Natural Resources and Heritage, with a focus on tourism.
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 programme investments.
The new programme will build on achievements so far, where last November in Dublin stakeholders celebrated 20 years of Ireland/Wales co-operation through EU funds.
Achievements include support for businesses such as Siwgr a Sbeis (Sugar and Spice), a successful and award-winning bakery business based in Llanrwst, which I will be visiting tomorrow (22 January).
WEFO will be the Managing Authority for new Ireland/Wales programme and preparatory work on the delivery arrangements include the composition of the Programme Monitoring Committee which will be concluded early this year. A programme launch event for Irish and Welsh stakeholders will be held this Spring.
The Ireland Wales programme is one of five European Territorial Co-operation programmes in which Wales will participate during 2014–2020, with negotiations with the European Commission on the remaining four programmes to soon commence by the respective lead Managing Authorities across EU regions.
I will continue to update Members on developments.