From 2007 to 2020, LEADER was included in the suite of measures that constituted Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP). The Rural Development Programmes agreed by each Member State with the EU Commission were designed to correspond to specified Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) programming periods. The CAP programming periods in turn correspond to the EU's budgetary cycle. The Rural Development Programme (RDP) will now be replaced by each Member State’s CAP Strategic Plan.
As part of the 2007 to 2013 CAP programming period, LEADER was included as a number of linked measures under Axis 4 of the RDP. The original amount of funding that was made available to LEADER under that Rural Development Programme was approximately €425m.
Initially, €400m was allocated to the Local Action Groups (LAGs) for project funding and administration with €25m being withheld for future distribution. The LEADER programme evolves over the course of the 7 year period and, depending on the circumstances, can be amended with the agreement of the EU Commission.
In 2013, due to the downturn in the national economy and following an amendment to the RDP which was negotiated with the European Commission, the allocations to the LAGs were revised resulting in a change in the co-financing rate and a decrease in the overall programme allocation. The revised allocations to the LAGs amounted to approximately €327m. In some instances, the reduced level of funding was insufficient to meet the commitments of the LAGs and additional national exchequer funding in the region of €47m was approved to meet these commitments. Additional funding for the food sector of €3m was also approved. In total, €377m was made available for the period 2007 to 2013.
The final spend achieved by the LAGs up to the end of December 2015 was approximately €366m.
In the 2024-2020 RDP a total allocation of €250m was available for LEADER, and this allocation has been maintained for the 2021-2027 period.