14 August 2001
Euro-millions to boost UK rural life

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

BRUSSELS has approved funding worth about 74 million to promote rural development in England over the next five years.

The money will fund schemes to add value to local farm produce, improve the quality of rural life and increase competitiveness through new technology.

It was agreed under the Leader+ initiative.

Brussels will put in some Euro54.3m (33.5m), which will be matched by the UK Treasury. Private contributions will add another Euro10.6m (7.2m).

Projects will be co-ordinated by 27 action groups targeting women, young people, older people, the unemployed and businesses hit by rural restructuring.

European Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler said the aim was to support the construction a more sustainable society, economy and rural environment.

The commission also approved a Euro536m (331m) Leader+ package for France. Last month, it approved a Euro31m (19m) scheme for Wales.