€500m is new minimum for RDP - Coveney
A BATTLE to secure a minimum of €500m a year in annual funding for rural development schemes goes to the wire this week as Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin go head-to-head.
Minister Coveney is pushing his Cabinet colleague to commit a minimum of €187m a year in exchequer funding to Pillar II of the EU's CAP spending.
This equates to just over 37pc of a co-funding commitment from the Government, a huge decrease on the 47pc co-funding that existed for the last seven years.
"The average over the last period of funding was €630m, but this clearly isn't a realistic figure to be aiming for," Minister Coveney said.
"Next year, we will spend €405m on rural development here. Farm organisations need to be more realistic on this issue; 50:50 funding is a call too far, but I am still pushing hard to maximise the investment.
"But Minister Howlin has real challenges," he added.
Minister Coveney had previously indicated that decisions on the detail of how Pillar I would be divided up would be known by mid-November and Pillar II by the end of November.
While he emphasised his desire to get a decision on the thorny Pillar II co-funding issue before Christmas, Minister Coveney hinted that a stalemate between his department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform could develop if he wasn't satisfied with what was on offer.