Funding to be reviewed again in 2021 when there is certainty regarding EU budgets

Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys has announced 20million in initial funding to bridge a gap in the Leader Programme, which was to have come to an end on December 31st.
Ms Humphreys said funding would be reviewed again in 2021 when there is certainty regarding EU funding for a transitional period which runs until the next leader Programme in 2023.
Leader is an EU fund which helps small-scale, business start ups and community initiatives. It was worth 250 million to Ireland in the period 2014 to 2020.
A new call for proposals under the Leader Food Initiative, which supports new and existing artisan, micro and small food producers, is to be be announced in 2021.
Ms Humphreys also said there would be some flexibilities in relation to the finalisation of the current Leader programme.
The deadline for commitments under the current Leader programme is to be extended to the end of March 2021 to facilitate the full allocation of funds available under that programme.
She said the initial allocation of 20 million would be available to cover both new projects and the administration costs of the Local Action Groups who deliver the programme.
Funding for the Transitional Programme would be reviewed in 2021 when there is certainty regarding EU funding for the transitional period to 2023, she said.
She said project approvals under the transitional programme will commence from 1st April 2021. However, Local Action Groups can work on identifying and animating potential projects from 1st January 2021.
Funding will continue to be provided in 2021 to the Local Action Groups for the on-going management and delivery of projects still running under the 2014-2020 Leader programme.
Ms Humphreys said since 1991, the Leader Programme had played an important role in the development and enhancement of rural areas, by providing critical funding to rural economies, and supporting rural communities to implement a local-led bottom-up approach to developing their own areas.
She said she would review the funding situation for the Transitional Programme when Regulations governing the transitional period are signed at EU level and when there is clarity regarding EU funding for the transitional period. I expect that these issues will be finalised early next year.
However, I am committed to ensuring that the Local Action Groups and their Implementing Partners will be supported to continue to deliver the Transitional Programme in 2022.