Today the European Commission adopted the new EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE IV) worth almost 270 million euro, with 229 million euro coming from the European Regional Development Fund.
PEACE IV is a unique Cohesion Policy programme aiming to reinforce a peaceful and stable society by fostering reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: "The PEACE programme is at the very core of what the European Union is about. It is a concrete example of the Union’s longstanding commitment to peace and reconciliation. This new programme will help support the consolidation of peace within the region and tackle remaining challenges, through investments in education, shared services and projects that will bring people together."
Despite the significant progress achieved over the last 25 years, the programme area is still affected by the legacy of division, with levels of segregation that limit the potential for the development of positive relationships between individuals and communities.
The PEACE IV Programme will focus on the following priorities:
-30 million euro will be provided for shared education projects that will increase contacts between pupils and teachers from all backgrounds. The programme will encourage schools to engage in shared education actions and provide training for teachers.
-57 million euro will be invested in the future of the next generation who, as research shows, is still negatively affected by the legacy of the conflict. The programme will invest in peer mentoring actions and local community youth initiatives to increase the interaction between children and young people from all backgrounds and promote respect for diversity.
-84.5 million euro have been earmarked for the creation of new shared services and spaces. The programme will support, for example, interventions for victims and survivors of the conflict, to address trauma, assess physical and mental health needs and assist families to engage in historical processes.
-44 million euro will be used to support local projects that will build mutual trust and understanding, involving sports, arts and culture as ways of facilitating interaction and mobility between residents from divided neighbourhoods.
The remainder of the funding will be used for technical assistance measures to ensure efficient implementation, monitoring and control of the programme.
The launch of the first PEACE Programme in 1995 was the direct result of the European Union’s will to respond positively to new opportunities in the Northern Ireland peace process during the paramilitary ceasefire announcements. Since then the EU has provided additional financial assistance through PEACE II and PEACE III.
Taking into account the new financial allocation, the cumulative EU contribution to peace and reconciliation in the programme area will amount to 1.56 billion euro. Together with the national co-financing from both Member States (UK and Ireland) more than 2.2 billion euro will have been invested by the end of the 2014-2020 programming period.