Peace Plus: the EU programme to support peace across Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland

Future Europe

Estimated time of reading: ~ 3 minutes  

In July 2022, the European Commission adopted PEACE PLUS, a cross-border EU program to bolster cooperation between Ireland and Northern Ireland. This initiative brings together the previous INTERREG and PEACE funding strands, paving the way for a new era of collaboration throughout the 2021-2027 EU period. With a substantial investment of €235 million from the European Territorial Cooperation allocation of the European Regional Development Fund, PEACE PLUS stands as a beacon of hope for the region.

The EU’s financial support towards the peace process in Northern Ireland has a long story, starting from 1989, through EU regional policy and EU contributions to the International Fund for Ireland (IFI).

In 1995, the first PEACE programme was approved. In 1999, the European Council decided the programme should continue until 2004 (PEACE II). The programme was subsequently extended until 2006. Then PEACE III followed, covering the 2007-2013 programming period, and PEACE IV came next for the 2014-2020 programming period.

It is interesting to note that in the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, they agreed to continue supporting this programme in the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework. Indeed, With the combined financial commitment from the UK and additional national co-financing from Ireland and Northern Ireland, PEACE PLUS heralds a total investment of €1.1 billion dedicated to nurturing peace and prosperity on the island of Ireland.

The programme targets investment in six key thematic areas:

-Building Peaceful and Thriving Communities

-Delivering Economic Regeneration and Transformation

-Empowering and Investing in Our Young People

-Healthy and Inclusive Communities

-Supporting a Sustainable and Better-Connected Future

-Building and Embedding Partnerships and Collaboration

You can find best practices from past funded projects at this link: 

You must select the language (English or French), and a list of projects with their description will appear. They can be a source of inspiration if you are interested in such funding opportunities.

Various organizations can submit applications for PEACEPLUS funding, including local authorities, public sector bodies, and voluntary and community sector organizations (subject to eligibility checks).

The PEACE programs have facilitated engagement and discourse while decentralizing decision-making processes, thus embracing a ‘bottom-up’ strategy. They have financed many endeavours, from initiatives aiding victims and survivors, empowering youth, and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises to infrastructural and urban revitalization projects. Crucially, these programs are recognized as models of peace-building policy, with their success serving as inspiration within Europe and other regions across the globe.

Written by: Cristina Ceccarelli

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