UK Chancellor guarantees funds for the North

UK Chancellor guarantees funds for the North

EU structural and investment projects in Northern Ireland signed before the British Chancellor's Autumn Statement will be guaranteed after Brexit, the UK Treasury said.

The current level of agricultural backing, which underpins the farming industry, will also be matched by the British Government until 2020.

Europe's Peace programme for entrenching the peace process through community development is due to run until 2020. The future of a programme designed to pump €17m into groups which help victims of the conflict had been in doubt, it has been claimed.

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 and Horizon research funding granted before we leave the EU will be guaranteed by the Treasury after we leave.

"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."

Assurances expected from the Treasury include:

:: All structural and investment fund projects, including agri-environment schemes, signed before the Chancellor's Autumn Statement on the budget will be fully funded, even when these projects continue beyond the UK's departure from the EU.

:: The Treasury will also put in place arrangements for assessing whether to guarantee funding for specific structural and investment fund projects that might be signed after the Autumn Statement, but while the UK remains a member of the EU.

:: Where UK organisations have bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funding projects while the UK is still a member of the EU, for example universities participating in Horizon 2020, the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK's departure from the EU.

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

Stormont's first and deputy first ministers Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness recently registered their concerns with the British Prime Minister over the future of projects relying on EU money. Northern Ireland receives approximately 10% of the UK's cash from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

EU funding has helped build the Peace Bridge over Derry's River Foyle and boosted transport links between Belfast and Dublin.

It has supported scores of community groups working in some of the most deprived parts of Northern Ireland as part of the rebuilding of a more normal society after the Troubles.

Brexit campaigners had claimed Northern Ireland got back £67 million less than it contributed to Europe last year.

The Chancellor added: "We are determined to ensure that people have stability and certainty in the period leading up to our departure from the EU and that we use the opportunities that departure presents to determine our own priorities."

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