Belfast Telegraph

European bank: Brexit could hit project funding in Northern Ireland

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland could lose out on generous funding from the European Investment Bank in the event of a Brexit, it's been claimed.

Housing, infrastructure and education projects are among those which have benefited in the past.

The bank is currently assessing a loan of £280m to support social housing investment by Choice and Apex in Northern Ireland.

A spokesman said existing projects which had qualified for funding were secure, but added: "Things could be different as a result of a UK withdrawal and issues discussed during that process".

Some of the biggest projects earmarked to receive funding from the European Investment Bank include those of Choice Housing. It's seeking up to £150m from the bank to "finance the new construction of social housing and retro-fitting of existing units in Northern Ireland".

Past projects included two major road infrastructure projects, upgrading sections of the M1 and M2 motorways, along with €169m (£130m) for the construction and maintenance of improvements to a 120 km section of the A1, A4 and A5 trunk roads.

It also gave a £150m loan to the Ulster University in order to help fund the relocating of the Jordanstown campus to Belfast city centre.

A spokesman said: "The referendum itself does not impact EIB loans and the EIB engagement would continue, in the event of a no vote, until the EIB shareholders decided otherwise."

The bank is supported by member states, but non-member states can apply for funding, though the spokesman said non-EU countries had received less funding.

Norway and Switzerland have benefited from £1bn in loans in recent years, compared to £43bn in the UK.

The spokesman said: "The EIB has a strong commitment to supporting infrastructure investment across Northern Ireland and for nearly 40 years has supported crucial energy, communications, transport, water and education investment.

But the EIB said it "was not possible to say for sure what would happen in the case of a 'leave' vote".

The Construction Employers Federation (CEF) has also said key infrastructure projects such as the York Street Interchange - set to benefit from EU money in the form of the Trans-European Transport Network - could also lose out.

Meanwhile, a Government report has said: "Northern Ireland would be confronted with difficult issues about the relationship" with the Republic, if the UK votes to leave the EU.

And it said that could mean "it would be necessary to impose customs checks on the movement of goods across the border".

The Cabinet Office said: "Questions would also need to be answered about the 'common travel area' which covers the movement of people". It warned: "This could have an impact on cross-border cooperation and trade."

£150m

Loan to Ulster University to move Jordanstown campus to Belfast city

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