North South Ministerial Council Joint Communiqué
1. The eighth North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) Institutional meeting was held in Stormont Castle, Belfast on 29 April 2013.
2. The Northern Ireland Executive was represented by the First Minister, the Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA and the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA. The Irish Government was represented by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore TD. The First Minister and deputy First Minister chaired the meeting.
3. Ministers had a broad discussion on the economy particularly the economic challenges faced within each jurisdiction and budgetary actions being taken to address these. There were discussions on Corporation Tax and NAMA. Ministers noted the importance of building confidence in the economy and the tourism industry and recognised the benefit of mutual cooperation in both. There was also a discussion on the upcoming G8 summit to be held in Enniskillen and on developments during the Irish EU Presidency.
4. The Council discussed the Irish Presidency of the EU in 2013 and welcomed the co-operation that had taken place between Irish Government and Executive Ministers. They noted progress on various EU related matters and noted that while both the Multi-Annual Financial Framework and a reform of the Common Agriculture Policy have been agreed at European Governments’ level negotiations are ongoing between the EU Council of Ministers and EU Parliament.
5. Ministers also discussed the current situation with EU funds particularly from PEACE III, INTERREG IV and FP7 research and development programmes. The potential for future Programmes was also discussed in particular a new PEACE Programme.
NORTH WEST GATEWAY INITIATIVE
6. Ministers welcomed progress under the North West Gateway Initiative and noted that there would be further engagement with key stakeholders to seek their views on the future development of the Initiative. The Council agreed to review progress on this engagement at a future meeting.
NORTH SOUTH BODIES ISSUES
7. The Council discussed matters relating to the North South Bodies noting progress in respect of their Corporate and Business Plans and the implementation of cumulative efficiency savings within the Bodies.
8. Ministers also discussed governance issues including the review of the Financial Memoranda and changes to the North South Pension Scheme. A further report on progress will be provided to the next NSMC Institutional meeting.
9. The Council noted changes to the Boards of the North South Bodies and that an event for Board Chairs, Vice Chairs and Chief Executives had been hosted by the Joint Secretaries in February 2013.
10. Ministers thanked outgoing Chief Executives of Waterways Ireland, John Martin, and the Loughs Agency, Derick Anderson, for their contributions to the work of the North South Bodies and wished them well in their retirements. Ministers noted that work is underway to identify their successors.
ST ANDREWS AGREEMENT REVIEW
11. Ministers discussed the St Andrews Agreement Review and looked forward to further discussion at the next NSMC Plenary meeting.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
12. Ministers agreed to meet again in October 2013.