We must make best use of future EU Funds - de Brún
As plans get under way for the next round of EU funds starting in 2007, Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has called for voluntary and community organisations and local elected representatives to become fully involved in the process.
Speaking today Ms de Brún said:
"While much of the debate around EU funding to date has concentrated on how much we will receive here for the next round, it is equally important to ensure that we make best use of future EU funds.
"It has been Sinn Féin's experience that full involvement at the planning stage of organisations and communities directly affected or involved in rolling out EU funded projects increases their social value and long term sustainability. To make the most of the next round of EU funding, the fullest participation of the broadest range of groups and individuals is required in planning for this now.
"Some discussions have begun with social partners and I would urge people to go along, even just to ensure that they are up to speed on where the debate is at in relation to rural and regional development, fisheries, cross-border co-operation, PEACE funding and the environmental and equality impact of future funding.
"While everyone knows it will be more difficult to get EU money in the time ahead, the importance of EU funding for 2007-2013 should not be underestimated, especially as much of it will be additional for the first time ever. As a member of the European Parliament Committee on Regional Development, I am well aware that EU regional policy has facilitated many worthwhile social and economic development initiatives and will continue to do so.
"Future structural funding can further develop the competitiveness of the economy here as well as vital all-island synergies. In conjunction with any future peace dividend, it can aid balanced economic development and the transition to a more peaceful society and a more stable and sustainable economy." ENDS