FOLLOWING intensive discussions in recent months with the EU Commission, a ‘letter of comfort’ has now been received in relation to Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
Announcing its receipt, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Simon Coveney, TD, stated that ‘the letter of comfort is the culmination of an intense period of consultation between officials in my Department and the EU Commission in relation to the content of our RDP. I am now in a position to begin the phased roll out of the schemes and supports in the RDP, which will help to underpin economic growth and development throughout rural Ireland.’
Formal adoption of RDPs in 2015 across Member States will be delayed until after the Multi-Annual Financial Framework is amended at EU level. Pending this process, the EU Commission agreed to issue letters of comfort where RDPs have completed the negotiation and consultation stage with the Commission in order to allow Member States to implement their RDPs in advance of formal adoption at EU level.
The RDP is co-funded by the National Exchequer and the EU Commission, and contains some €4 billion of schemes and supports, including:
•A new agri-environment and climate scheme (GLAS) which is the successor to the previous REPS and AEOS schemes, and a range of other environmental schemes.
•Support for Areas of Natural Constraint (formerly Disadvantaged Areas).
•Support for a range of on farm capital investments.
•Support for a range of knowledge transfer measures.
•Support for the beef sector via the Beef Data and Genomics Programme.
•Support for projects delivered via the LEADER mechanism (operated by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government).
The Minister further commented: ‘Following on from my recent opening of the new GLAS scheme, I am delighted to confirm that the basis to implement other schemes such as the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme, the Beef Data and Genomics Programme and support for capital investment is now in place.
The roll-out of these schemes will underpin increased competitiveness and growth in rural Ireland and the agri-food sector over the period to 2020.
‘The National Exchequer funding committed to this RDP is a clear signal of the Government’s continuing commitment to strategic investment in the agri-food sector and the rural economy.’