Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Rural and Community Development
21. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the timescale for the commencement of an interim LEADER programme in 2021; if this programme will be funded through the national Exchequer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43926/20]
79. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding provision for an extension in 2021 of the existing LEADER programme and the proposals to fund the work of local development companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43925/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 79 together.
Due to delays at EU level, there will be a delay between the end of the current LEADER programme, which was due to conclude at the end of this year, and the next EU programme which will not now commence until 2023. The Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce a transitional LEADER programme to bridge that gap.
Yesterday, I announced details of the Transitional LEADER Programme, which will come into effect from 1stApril 2021 for new project approvals. Local Action Groups (LAGs), who deliver the LEADER programme at ground level, can work on identifying potential projects from 1stJanuary next.
I also announced some flexibilities to the current LEADER programme, including extending the deadline for commitments to the end of March 2021 to facilitate the full allocation of the funds available.
There is still a lack of clarity concerning the availability of EU co-funding during the transitional period between the current LEADER programme and the next EU framework for LEADER. I have therefore provided an initial allocation of €20 million from the Exchequer for the Transitional LEADER Programme.
This allocation will fund both new project applications and the administration and animation costs of the LAGs. I have also undertaken to review the funding situation when the issue of EU co-financing for the transitional period is clarified.
My Department has written to all of the Local Action Groups, providing a detailed outline of the Transitional Programme, including their respective financial allocations.
In addition to providing funding for the Transitional LEADER Programme, a further €7 million will be provided to the Local Action Groups in 2021 for the on-going management and delivery of projects still running under the 2014-2020 LEADER programme.