Brexit hastens Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s EU funding deadline

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The deadline for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to apply for nearly €3.7 million under stage two of the Special European Union Programmes Body’s (SEUPB) Peace IV initiative has been brought forward due to Brexit.

The local authority originally had until November to apply for the funds, which are for projects on children and young people, shared spaces and shared services, and building positive relations.

However, a report presented to councillors on September 5 revealed that the SEUPB is working on a “worst case” assumption that Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, which initiates the UK’s exit from the EU, will be triggered in Autumn 2016. SEUPB has therefore brought the deadline forward to September 23 before the Chancellor’s Autumn statement, to ensure that the British Exchequer will match the Peace IV programme’s funding.

The report notes that SEUPB have stated the money is “no longer” ring fenced for councils, meaning the budget is “not protected and consequently may change.” It adds that the process is “very competitive” leaving “no guarantee that the funding will be secured.” It also highlights that the “indicative budget for MEA could be reduced, or at worst case withdrawn/diverted.”

Chief Executive Ann Donaghy said that with only a few weeks left to go until the deadline she had “pulled” council staff from other projects in order to meet it.

“We need to make sure this is submitted on time and that it is very thorough and detailed, it has to be right in the first instance,” she told councillors.

“I would seek members’ patience regarding other areas of work for a few weeks until we achieve this.”