Wednesday, 24 March 2021
Department of Rural and Community Development
2096. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the basis for the programme for Government commitment to move the delivery of the LEADER programme to independent local action groups supported by local community development committees and away from the present model; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15811/21]
The Programme for Government contains a commitment to deliver a Rural Development Programme that is led by independent Local Action Groups and supported by Local Community Development Committees.
This just one of a number of commitments in the Programme for Government related to LEADER.
Due to a delay at EU level in agreeing the post-2020 EU Budget, my Department’s priority amongst these commitments was to develop and deliver a transitional LEADER programme this year to bridge the gap between the end of the 2014-2020 programme, and the next EU framework LEADER programme which will not commence until 2023.
In December 2020, I announced details of a Transitional LEADER Programme for the period 2021-2022, with an initial allocation of €20 million. The Transitional Programme will come into effect from 1 April 2021. I also extended the timeframe for project approvals under the 2014-2020 LEADER programme until 31 March 2021.
EU co-financing has now become available for the Transitional Programme and I recently announced an increased allocation of €70 million for the programme. The programme will be delivered through the existing Local Action Group and Implementing Partner structures, as any funding available from the EU is on the basis of the framework applicable to the 2014-2020 LEADER programme.
The Transitional Programme also provides for an increase in the aid rate for private enterprises, from 50% to 75%, thereby addressing a further commitment in the Programme for Government in relation to LEADER.
Preparations for the design and delivery of the next EU LEADER programme from 2023 are currently underway. The question of the administrative structures for the delivery of the programme will be considered as part of that work, having regard, inter alia, to the provisions of the EU Regulations governing the structure of future Local Action Groups, a review of the 2014-2020 programme, and the outcome of consultations with all relevant stakeholders.