Local MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher has welcomed the decision by DG Competition to reinstate the maximum grant aid at €500,000 for “basic services” and “village renewal” rural development projects.
The European Commission called into question the authorisation process used by the Irish authorities, which resulted in several rural development projects, costing in excess of €200,000 being delayed. The delay affected projects such as the construction of community halls, meeting places and other important rural development initiatives.
Mr Gallagher said: “I am pleased to learn of the approval by DG Competition. As a result of the decision, rural development projects with a community focus in excess of €200,000 can now be approved by the Irish Authorities. The maximum rate of €500,000 has been reinstated, which is welcome news for local communities across the north-west.”
“I was contacted by several local communities in the north-west who were experiencing difficulties with applications for vital construction projects. I was then in regular contact with officials in DG Competition in Brussels and the Department of the Environment and Local Government with a view to obtaining clearance.”
Mr Gallagher added: “The Leader programme helps to create and maintain jobs and economic activity in rural Ireland, with a total budget of €96 million for 2012. The increase in grant aid to €500,000 will ensure the construction of important infrastructure projects that will serve rural communities for many years to come.”