Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has launched an initiative to encourage greater Northern Ireland participation in European co-operation programmes.
Speaking at a conference in Belfast the minister said that involvement in the EU Interreg IVB Transnational and Inter-regional programmes had “real economic benefits for Northern Ireland”.
He said that for the 2007 to 2013 funding period the province was participating in 22 projects working with partners from 12 EU member regions.
“All too often we sell ourselves short as a region but these programmes represent a significant achievement,” the minister said.
“These projects are in a whole variety of fields from innovation to environmental protection. We are not only learning from our European counterparts, but also sharing our own experiences on tackling common issues. In many cases, European regions are specifically seeking partners from Northern Ireland to take advantage of our experience.”
Mr Wilson encouraged others to take advantage of the opportunities available in the programmes and partnerships.
“We are now entering a crucial period. Over the next 18 months the remaining monies for these programmes in the 2007-13 period will be allocated,” he said.