asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the Written Answer by the Minister for the South East, Jonathan Shaw, on 20 May (Official Report, Commons, 173W), how it is possible for the total budget for seven years to be known when the matched funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development is still being finalised; and whether the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs portion will cover any shortfall in the anticipated European contribution. [HL4260]
The total EU budget for the seven-year period of the Rural Development Programme for England was approved by the European Commission on 7 December 2007 (Commission Decision C(2007)6320). The Treasury funding which is required to match this European budget is set annually. Matching of the two annual budgets has to be reviewed each year because of, for example, changes in exchange rates and to take account of the rate at which applications for the voluntary schemes administered under the programme are submitted and approved.
The conditions under which the EU funds are allocated enables some limited flexibility to transfer unspent budget into future years. Defra officials are currently engaged with the bodies responsible for administering the schemes to ensure these funds are utilised fully.