I propose to take Questions Nos. 7, 12 and 18 together.
The programme for Government includes a commitment to prioritise a State-led programme to bridge the gap between the current LEADER programme and the next EU programme. The objective of this commitment is to allow a local-led rural development project to be delivered under a transitional programme until the new EU programme commences.
The next EU programme will not commence until 2022 at the earliest. In recent months, my Department has listened to the views of several stakeholders involved in the delivery of the LEADER programme in respect of the proposed transitional programme. This includes local authorities and the local development companies. The design, duration and composition of the transitional programme is currently being finalised. I hope to be in a position shortly to announce the details of the programme that will come into effect in 2021.
An extra €4 million has been provided for LEADER in budget 2021 to bring the total allocation for next year to €44 million. I can confirm that the allocation will be used to fund a combination of existing projects as they come to completion as well as new projects to be approved under the transitional programme. The funding will also support the administration costs of local action groups in closing out the existing programme and delivering the transitional programme.
It is important to recognise that LEADER is a multiannual programme and that payments in respect of projects which are approved in any given year are generally not drawn down until subsequent years, depending on the nature and scale of the projects concerned. In this context, overall costs related to projects under the transitional programme are likely to be met from the provision in my Department's Vote in 2022 and 2023 as well as in 2021.