Summary: The European Commission is expected to agree on December 16 measures securing the ECU 200 million funding for the special Community Initiative of Peace and Reconciliation for Northern Ireland and Ireland for 1998 and 1999. The Initiative, launched in 1995, was not catered for in the original Structural Funds budget and its resources have always been a problem.

The decision, expected to be agreed without discussion by the Commission, has already been approved by the European Union's Member States. In the first three years of the Initiative, 1995-1997, the money came from the EU's own unused resources, but since then the Commission has had to find other means to secure the funding. The ECU 100 million annual budget for the special Initiative will be found from structural funds the Member States have failed to allocate over recent years. The annual breakdown is as follows: Belgium ECU 1.3 million, Denmark ECU 1 million, Germany ECU 6 million, Greece ECU 2.9 million, Spain zero, Ireland zero, France ECU 18.1 million, Italy ECU 44.7 million, Luxembourg ECU 0.1 million, the Netherlands ECU 0.2 million, Portugal ECU 6.8 million, the United Kingdom ECU 6.4 million, Austria ECU 1.7 million, Finland ECU 0.1 million, and Sweden ECU 1.2 million. Italy's high contributions reflect the failure of local and national authorities to use much of the available Structural Funds, mainly through...

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