Anderson leads Brussels delegation

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Junior Minister Martina Anderson led a delegation to Brussels last week for a round of 40 meetings with high-level European policy makers to discuss EU funding.

The delegation also included fellow Junior Minister Jonathon Bell and senior officials from all Stormont departments.

The group held a series of meetings ahead of the European Commission’s next round of funding for the period from 2012-2020.

Minister Anderson said; “We have benefited from significant financial support from the EU over the years. Now the European Commission is encouraging us to share our own experience with others. We have an opportunity to do so across many areas including peace building and conflict resolution, promoting equality of opportunity, provision for young and older people, ICT promoting health and the management of the environment to mention but a few.

“This enhances our standing in Europe and in turn Europe’s continued interest in supporting the region, including through the Barroso Taskforce.”

The delegation held around 40 meetings with policy makers and covered a wide range of issues including; levels of future EU regional funding, research, support for businesses and new forms of financial support for SMEs, the social economy, agriculture and sustainable development.

The visit culminated in a plenary session presenting the Executive’s strategic European Priorities for the coming year.

Ms Anderson and Mr Bell held a meeting with the newly appointed director general of the Directorate General for Regional Policy, Walter Deffa, to discuss plans for the Peace IV funding programme.

They also met with a member of the Cabinet of Baroness Ashton, the EU’s new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the ministers also drew attention to the potential role of Northern Ireland in the current EU debate on European wide peace initiative.

They also attended a plenary event at the Office of the NI Executive in Brussels which involved more than 30 participants.

The ministers said the plan is to issue a full report on all aspects and outcomes of their three-day visit to Brussels.