02/02/2011

European Task Force's Work Discussed

Members of the Barroso Task Force Working group met with the Stormont Junior Ministers this week ahead of an official visit by the European Commission's Task Force in the Spring.

Junior Ministers Robin Newton and Gerry Kelly discussed a number of issues with the working group, including how best to pursue and benefit from European funding, policies and networking opportunities.

Sinn Fein Junior Minister Gerry Kelly (pictured) said: "The European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, and the European Commission have worked alongside us in every step of this peace process and we look forward to the visit of the Task Force in the Spring.

"The Task Force provides us with a unique opportunity to shape European policy, to build co-operative working across Europe and secure funding," he said, noting that the Commission's Task Force was set up in 2007 and it was the first time a specific taskforce was established for a single region in the EU.
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DUP Junior Minister Robin Newton said: "The potential of the Task Force is immense. The meeting of the Barroso Task Force Working Group is another step towards closer European engagement - identifying areas in which the Commission's Task Force can assist us in making the most of opportunities within Europe. We warmly welcome this renewed support form President Barroso.

"We discussed with senior officials how to maximise the benefits of this initiative to take advantage of the many exciting opportunities- both financial and business - that Europe offers.

"We are committed to increasing our uptake of European funding. Each of our departments has a role to play," said the East Belfast MLA.

The Executive has secured European funding valued at over €23million under the Framework 7 Programme for Research and Innovation since 2007. As a result of the Task Force, new work has also been carried out to increase participation in the programme.

Since April 2009, over 2,000 projects with a total value of €13million have been approved under the Rural Development Programme. Over 42,000 people have participated in skills programmes through the European Social Fund.

The PEACE programmes have also had a significant and positive impact and we remain committed to securing a PEACE IV programme.

Through the Task Force, the European Commission has committed to helping the region benefit from better participation in European policies and programmes and securing European funding.

(BMcC/GK)

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