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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 05 10:50 am    Post subject: BECKETT WELCOMES EU RURAL DEVELOPMENT DEAL  Reply with quote    

Defra Press release


The Rural Development Regulation, the mechanism for delivering EU rural development funding from 2007, was agreed unanimously last night (20 June, 2005) by Agricultural Ministers in Luxembourg.

The Commission released their proposals last July. Following extensive stakeholder consultation and negotiations, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Margaret Beckett said that the regulation was the best possible deal for rural areas in the UK.

Mrs Beckett said:

"Rural development is the part of the Common Agricultural Policy which really does spend public money on public goods. This regulation provides the basis for spending on agri-environment schemes, rural diversification and regeneration projects, tree-planting schemes, and help to the agriculture industry to improve its business prospects, as well as to develop innovative products.

"Rural development funding is an important element of my Sustainable Farming and Food Strategy. The agreement reached in Luxembourg on the Rural Development Regulation means that this can continue in 2007-2013, allowing us to drive forward the CAP reform agenda".

The current Rural Development Regulation delivers funds through the England Rural Development Programme; ten schemes to protect and improve the countryside, develop sustainable enterprises and help rural communities to thrive. The next programme from 2007 will be in keeping with the direction set out in the Rural Strategy 2004 and a consultation will take place in the coming months on the programme's priorities.

The regulation is based around a simpler set of 3 priorities for expenditure - competitiveness, environmental land management, and wider rural diversification - similar to the simplified approach to rural funding announced by Defra in 2004. Improvements to the regulation won in today's discussions include more flexible rules on funding for small and medium-sized enterprises, and more generous funding rules for afforestation.

Margaret Beckett added that the exact amount of funding that the UK would receive is not yet known due to the on-going negotiations of the overall EU budget for 2007-2013.

She continued:

"The ability to continue to apply national voluntary modulation is on the agenda for future budget discussions. This is a good deal for the UK and underpins our commitment to farming and rural communities."

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