Agenda item


            The International Relations Manager provided information in relation to the EU week of Regions and Cities together with an update in EU Funding Opportunities.


            She explained that, this year, the EU week of Regions and Cities would take virtually over three consecutive weeks from 5th – 22nd October. She reported that the registration link would be circulated to Members and joining the meetings would be a good opportunity to engage with a wide range of cities. She advised that the Council had been invited to attend a Panel by the Irish Regions Office on the topic of resilience, to set out and showcase the work that was being undertaken in Belfast and further information would be provided on the participants of the Panel in due course.


            During discussion, one member suggested that the Council could organise its own event, in relation to resilience, at the EU week of Regions and Cities in 2021.


            The International Relations Manager provided an overview of the Peace Plus Programme 2021-2027. She explained that this would be a replacement programme for the current Peace IV and Interreg Europe Programmes. She presented the following table of the 6 Thematic Areas and Eligible Activities that had been included in the draft Programme:


Thematic Areas

Eligible Activities

Theme 1: Building Peaceful and Thriving Communities


o    Through development and implementation of Local Action Plans (LAPs), per Council area (17 in total, North and South), which are co designed with communities. LAPs will support inclusion, build positive relations, and improve physical and social environment- regeneration, reimaging and restoration, community shared facilities, celebrating cultures, diversity and inclusion

o    Small project funds up to £100,000, empowering bottom up, grass roots projects to embed peace

o    Building positive relations, focusing on minority and marginalized groups

 At a Regional or Functional level, transcending local authority boundaries – Belfast City Deal area- an opportunity?

o    Developing key Institutional capacity

o    Initiatives to re image communities through physical restoration, and creation of shared spaces – Councils will determine which capital projects to include within their LAPs.

o    Justice related community interventions.

Theme 2: Delivering Economic Regeneration and Transformation


o    Specifically targeting sectors and communities most affected by the Covid 19 crisis and in most need and to mitigate the effects of Brexit.

o    Actions to support SMEs to become more competitive, diversification, digitalisation, R and D, access new markets, network and sectoral clusters.

o    Support for the development of Smart Cities, - develop and adopt new technology approaches to support the delivery of services and the development of new products.

o    Support for Social Innovation in response to societal challenges- Social entrepreneurs, Social economy

o    R and D for specific sectors eg Green Economy, Fintech, Cyber security- collaboration between academia, industry and high level Institutions to strive to be wit leaders and create centres of excellence in certain sectors

o    Skills training and apprenticeship, skills development and retaining for any sectors (seen as essential in light of C 19, and for the most marginalised from society). Councils seen as playing a key role here with all key partners

o    Actions to support the rebuilding of the Tourism and Hospitality sectors- infrastructure and products as well as Marketing the region.

Theme 3: Empowering and Investing in our Young People


o    Shared Education initiatives from early years settings onwards

o    Mental Health and Well-being programmes- intergenerational trauma, emotional resilience and personal development of young people.

o    Skills development and enhancement of support services, including affordable childcare

o    Empowering young people to become Leaders

o    Cross border skills interventions and qualification recognition.

Theme 4: Healthy and Inclusive Communities (particularly in relation to cross border healthcare and addressing health inequalities)


o    Innovations in e-Health and integrated healthcare

o    Mental Health interventions- addiction, suicide prevention, wrap around services

o    Rural Health issues including digital health, transport access

o    Rural development, physical reimaging and regeneration

o    Support for victims and survivors including mental health

Theme 5: Supporting a Sustainable Future (cross border collaboration seen as essential)


o    Collaboration in transboundary management of the Marine and Costal environment

o    Protection of biodiversity including nature recovery activities, including climate change resilience measures

o    Development and protection of water catchments and associated water quality

o    Monitoring and management of air quality and the development of renewable energy

o    Research and data collection across all area as outlined above

o    Investment in Cross Border Rail infrastructure – Belfast to Dublin Economic corridor – driving the environmental efficiency of rolling stock and improving the regularity of services

o    Community engagement and awareness and education on climate change

Theme 6: Building and Embedding Partnership and Collaboration – represents the Interreg (EU regulatory required, cross border specific 

 EU Objective 1 – 15% overall programme budget allocation).


This theme will enable North, South Govt department collaboration, as well as small projects to engage with citizens.


o    Development of cross border Local Authority Strategic Area Plans to support tourism, skills development, rural development- East Birder Region, ICBAN , North West etc. Note: Funding will cover the cost of the development NOT delivery of these Plans.

o    Development of tourism initiatives such as joint cross border, collaborative, Marketing plans

o    R and D for developing cross border solutions on border issues/challenges.




            The International Relations Manager explained that the Programme was due to begin in 2021, but might experience a slight delay in commencement due to Covid-19. She advised the Programme would include local action plans and local and capital projects, however the funding allocation had not been confirmed as yet, however, the Council would be preparing a programme of work to ensure eligibility for such funding. She confirmed that Councillor Corr was the Council’s representative on the Northern Ireland Programme Development Steering Group, which was working with the Department of Finance to develop and produce the final draft


            The Committee noted the update which had been provided and agreed that that the Council would organise its own event for next year’s EU week of Regions and Cities, subject to the approval of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee for funding.