Dáil Éireann - Volume 624 - 27 September, 2006

Written Answers. - Rural Development.

Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food her views on whether the current concept of rural development in EU terms and as applied to EU programmes is too restrictive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29764/06]

  Mary Coughlan: The EU rural development support framework forms part of the common agricultural policy. I believe that it is a very important element of that policy and that the priorities identified for the forthcoming programming period are the correct ones. These cover the competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sectors, [722] the environment and the countryside, and quality of life and diversification of economic activity. Within each priority, there is a range of possible support measures available to member states. This approach affords a necessary element of choice without detracting from the overall priorities. It is also worth noting that the rural development support framework is designed to complement other support mechanisms available in rural areas.

In liaison with the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, my Department is currently finalising a draft rural development programme for 2007 to 2013. That draft programme will issue for consultation and independent evaluation prior to its formal submission to the EU Commission.