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Rural Areas: Finance

Volume 475: debated on Monday 12 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much EU funding was provided for the individual axes of the European Rural Development Programme for England, expressed in euro; what the sterling equivalent was at the time the sum was settled; and what it is at the most recent exchange rate. (203928)

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) contribution to the Rural Development Programme for England 2007-2013 is set in euros. Details are set out in the financial tables of the programme document, which was approved by the European Commission in December 2007. The sums are:

Total EAFRD

3,217,464,635

of which:

Axis 1

344,877,726

Axis 2

2,441,251,505

Axis 3

269,018,937

Axis 4

160,894,083

Technical assistance

1,422,384

At the time of programme approval, the exchange rate was 0.71475. Sterling equivalents as at December were therefore:

£

Total EAFRD budget

2,299,682,847

of which:

Axis 1

246,501,355

Axis 2

1,744,884,513

Axis 3

192,281,285

Axis 4

114,999,046

Technical assistance

1,016,649

The current exchange rate is 0.78895, as specified by the European Commission and used to convert EAFRD payments for May 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how often his Department draws down funding for the European Rural Development Programme from the EU; and what exchange rate is used to allocate that funding to the regional development agencies and Natural England. (203929)

The EU funding is paid in arrears, following receipt of a claim for reimbursement from the Rural Payments Agency. The claim for reimbursement is submitted on a quarterly basis in Euros.

Budgets for the Regional Development Agency and Natural England Rural Development Programme for England are allocated by DEFRA, in sterling. The Regional Development Agencies and Natural England are responsible for committing the expenditure, but payments to beneficiaries and claims for reimbursement from the European Commission are made by the Rural Payments Agency, the Paying Agency for the Programme. Expenditure commitment details are provided by the Regional Development Agencies and Natural England, in Sterling, to the Rural Payments Agency, which makes the payments in sterling. It is the responsibility of the Rural Payments Agency to convert the sterling payments into euro claims for reimbursement from the European Commission. The exchange rate used is set by the European Central Bank rate, on the last but one day in the month before the payments were made.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding he has allocated to the European Rural Development Programme from UK funds as matched funding; and what effect changes in the euro/sterling exchange rate will have on that sum. (203930)

The total Exchequer budget (matched funding) for the RDPE 2007-2013 is £1,682 million. Fluctuations in exchange rates will not affect this sum. Under Council Regulation 1698/2005, the Rural Development Regulation, any unspent European funds may be rolled forward by up to two calendar years following the year in which they were originally allocated. The effect of exchange rate fluctuations can therefore be managed over the seven-year programming period as a whole.