The European Council of Ministers reached agreement on 5 February 2013 on the Multi Annual Financial Framework for the EU. The Irish Presidency will now engage with the European Parliament to seek its assent to the deal agreed by the Council. In parallel to these discussions, the negotiation processes for the large range of regulatory instruments required to implement the various parts of the MFF will continue.
LEADER is supported through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, EAFRD, which is in place to fund measures under Rural Development or the Pillar II element of the CAP. Under the proposed regulatory framework for the EAFRD for 2014 to 2020 at least 5% of the total EAFRD contribution to each member state's Rural Development Programmes, RDPs, must be reserved for LEADER. The agreement on the MFF provides for a strong CAP supporting a strong agricultural base in Europe and indicates that the overall EU level of funding for Pillar II is €84,936 million, including the LEADER element. However, further negotiations are required at EU and national level in order to determine the breakdown of this funding both for Ireland in general and for LEADER in particular. In this context, a definitive allocation for the LEADER programme for the 2014 to 2020 programming period is not yet available.
Recommended changes to the current arrangements for implementing LEADER are set out in the final report of the Local Government/Local Development Alignment Steering Group, and reflected in the Putting People First – Action Programme for Effective Local Government. The report recommended that Socio-Economic Committees should have responsibility for planning, management and oversight of local and community programmes, including the matching of resources to priorities and achievement of value for money. The report also proposed that appropriately structured Socio-Economic Committees would present the optimum structure for implementing LEADER local development strategies for the 2014 to 2020 EU programming period. I anticipate the continued involvement of local development companies in programme implementation on behalf of my Department.