EU Funding Replacement

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 12th October 2020.

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Photo of Colm Gildernew Colm Gildernew Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 12th October 2020

T1. Mr Gildernew asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for an update on securing a replacement for European Union funding. (AQT 511/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Considerable work has been going on. The UK Government will be providing replacement funding. It has been indicated throughout — through the Conservative Party manifesto — that they will supply the same funding as is currently supplied. It is for us to hold them to that and ensure that that is the case. That has been the case. COVID-19, however, is inflicting huge damage on the Treasury. The cost to the Treasury is mounting all the time, so there are significant pressures. One can never be absolutely sure, so we always need to be acutely aware of those things.

Photo of Colm Gildernew Colm Gildernew Sinn Féin

Given that uncertainty, what assurances can the Minister give that the replacement funding will be secured?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Had we been in the European Union, we would have no guarantees of having the same funding as previously. EU countries are going into a round of negotiations, and, in that, accession countries, which were treated less favourably than existing EU countries, will be treated the same.

That means either that Governments who face the same troubles as the UK Government face in supporting their country through COVID-19 will have to invest more or, indeed, that the cake will be made smaller and each country will have less money to give to their people. There are no guarantees in any of this, but we have a commitment, made in the Government's manifesto, that they will maintain current spending, and we will seek to hold them to that.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Question 5 has been withdrawn.