Dáil Éireann - Volume 522 - 27 June, 2000
Written Answers. - Leader Programmes.
Mr. Deasy Mr. Deasy
168. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the current position regarding funding for the Leader programmes; and when he expects to be able to announce same. [18460/00]
Mr. Walsh Mr. Walsh
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): The draft guidelines for the Leader+ programme have been adopted and published by the European Commission. The guidelines set down the template for the drafting by member states of operational programmes to be submitted to the Commission for approval and clearance.
My Department is currently in the process of preparing the operational programmes for the implementation of both the Leader+ and the national Leader programmes for submission to the European Commission. It is intended to place advertisements shortly inviting expressions of interest from local groups on the application and implementation of the programmes in rural areas.
Consultation with relevant parties is required by the European Commission in the preparation of the draft operational programmes and a significant degree of consultation has already taken place. The consultative process is ongoing and a number of advisory seminars have been arranged  for July on a regional basis to provide information to prospective participants in the new Leader arrangements.
Now that the guidelines for Leader+ are in place, I am ensuring that the draft operational programmes for Leader+, together with the mainstream Leader programme proposed under the national development plan, are completed and forwarded to the Commission with a view to obtaining clearance and the prompt establishment of Leader funding activity to 2006. While the European Commission procedure provides for a period of months for formal negotiation and clearance of programmes, I will be pressing for acceptance of our programmes at the earliest time possible.
Dáil Éireann 522 Written Answers. Leader Programmes.