The negotiations on the CAP reform package have been ongoing during the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU. As part of this process, the Rural Development proposal (EAFRD) is being actively progressed together with the other three proposals which form the overall package. The aim of the negotiations is to reach political agreement by the end of the Irish Presidency.
Under the current proposal, Ireland must undertake an ex ante evaluation, a public consultation, and complete a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and a needs assessment. My Department has contracted an independent evaluator, following a public procurement process, to prepare the ex-ante evaluation report and to advise on the SWOT and drafting of the RDP for the next round. In addition, the initial consultation process has been completed with a further consultation to take place in mid July on the SWOT and needs assessment. Based on the outcome of these processes, my Department will prepare a draft programme and again engage in further consultation.
At the present time it is intended to have a draft RDP submitted to the Commission as early as possible in 2014. This process will be interlinked with the submission by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform [DPER] of the overall Partnership Agreement which will form the framework document for EAFRD funding and the other structural funds. It is expected that a period of negotiation of several months with the Commission will follow the submission of the RDP.