The Government is being urged to secure funding to protect and ensure ongoing and future cross border co-operation for rural communities and businesses in the post-Brexit era, in a new report from the Joint Committee on Rural and Community Development.
It’s among thirteen actions being called for in the Brexit and the Border: The Impact on Rural Communities report being launched today by the committee in AV Room, Leinster House today, Wednesday, 10 July at 4p.m.
Chairman of the Committee, Joe Carey TD said: “From the day the UK held the Brexit Referendum in June 2016, the committee was concerned that an unintended consequence of the Brexit process would be that Northern Ireland and the border region is at risk of suffering a loss of funding and support in the short term along with EU Peace programme funding in the long term, resulting from the possible return of a ’hard border‘ with all that entails.”
“The recommendations in the report were drawn up by the Committee after careful consideration of the submissions received and the evidence heard from concerned stakeholders.”
The Committee is urging Government to:
- Seek European Union funds for a programme to address the challenges of inter-community conflict and cross-border relationships in the face of instability or uncertainty in a post Brexit era is among the recommendations being made.
- Seek agreement from the European Union and the United Kingdom to allow Northern Ireland continued access to EU funding programmes relevant to cross-border co-operation. If that is not agreed, then to seek agreement with the UK Government to replace EU funding to ensure continuation of on-going and future cross-border co-operation programmes.
- Provide certainty and clarity about reciprocal rights and privileges in the 2019 Memorandum of Understanding reaffirming the Common Travel Area.
The Committee is calling on border businesses:
- To immediately draw up post Brexit strategies to protect current cross-border business arrangements.
The Committee is also calling for:
- New research on agreements in place affecting other EU regions sharing land borders with non EU States like Norway and Switzerland, for example.
- The eleven border area local authorities to develop North/South tourism strategies applicable to their specific cross border regions.
- Qualifications issued by authorities in each jurisdiction to be recognised equally by jurisdictions concerned following the 2019 Memorandum of Understanding concerning the Common travel area.
- Funding bodies to carry out a series of evaluations on currently funded activities and how they could be affected by Brexit.
Senators and TDs heard from 16 stakeholder organisations in five separate committee hearings in the consultative process for the report. They included representatives from Louth County Council, Centre for Cross Border Studies, Northern Ireland Local Government Association, Derry City and Strabane District Council and Irish Small and Medium Business Association.
Stakeholders outlined their views on how to mitigate the risks to the border region post-Brexit and how to enhance rural and community development.
Threat to hard-gained social cohesion, the potential loss of current EU funding for communities and small business, and fluctuations in the Euro / Sterling exchange rate were some of the concerns raised.
Deputy Carey thanks all who assisted the committee, both North and South, from Local Authorities and other stakeholders in the consultative process for the report.
He also thanks the former Joint Committee on Arts, Heritage, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and chairman of the former committee Peader Tóibín who started the work on the report in 2017.
Copies of the report with a full list of recommendations can be accessed here from 4pm.