Anna Lo MLA said: “Northern Ireland as a region has benefited substantially from EU Structural Funds such as the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund as well as agricultural subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy.
“However, the European Commission has 22% of the EU budget which is allocated for competitive programmes in the areas of research, education, health and youth actions. It is in this area that Northern Ireland as a region has performed badly particularly compared to the success of the Republic of Ireland under the Framework 7 Programme.
“The Barroso Task Force, a unique taskforce established in 2007 to help us to become more competitive and involved in the EU, has provided us the impetus to connect and profit more from the European Union.
“It is extremely important that we take a collaborative and co-ordinated approach for relevant departments to work effectively with each other and stakeholders to access the Framework 7 Programme successor programme Horizon 2020 which has a budget of about £60 billion.
“Being engaged in Horizon 2020 will not only provide more funding but also open doors for many of our researchers and businesses in Europe and beyond.”