The European Commission has given the green light to a further six Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) for the 2014-2020 period to provide different forms of support and investment in rural Europe.

Taken together, the RDPs for mainland Finland, mainland Portugal  and the German regions of Sachsen and Sachsen-Anhalt  will see more than €10 billion of public funding invested in rural areas, more than €6billion of which from the EU budget.

Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan stated today: “As with the first 3 schemes that were cleared last week, the main emphasis for most of these programmes will be improving the economic competitiveness and the sustainability of farms and other activities so as to boost growth and jobs and environmental performance in rural areas.”

This means that 9 (out of 118) programmes covering 22% of the EU Rural Development budget have now been cleared, with a further 15-20 expected to be adopted in the first Quarter of 2015. The remaining programmes will follow once a technical adjustment to the MFF has been agreed by the budgetary authority.

However, here at home the Department of Agriculture is still waiting for EU approval for Ireland’s draft Rural Development Plan.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said the European Commission services have recently notified the Department of their observations on the draft Scheme.

The Minister said the Department provided immediate and detailed replies.

He said discussions are now continuing with the Commission, with a view to gaining approval at the earliest possible date. Minister Coveney has said once approval is granted, the Department will move to open Schemes under the new Ruarl Development Plan for applications.