MEP defends CAP budget

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Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson this week defended the budget of the Common Agricultural Policy at a meeting of the European Parliament’s agriculture committee.

Mr Nicholson’s intervention came as MEPs questioned the Estonian minister for rural affairs, as Estonia takes over the rotating EU Presidency for the next six months.

The UUP MEP, speaking after the meeting, said: “I have made the point a number of times recently about the importance of defending the CAP budget.

“This has been a topic that has been under even more scrutiny than usual, as the UK’s departure from the European Union will make it even harder for the EU to find that money.

“I put it to the Estonian Presidency that it must be prepared to resist calls to reduce agriculture’s slice of the EU budget. This is fundamental to all other priorities within agriculture; if you do not have the finances, you cannot deliver.

“We are not long out of a period of crisis across many sectors, crises brought about by factors out of the control of the producers. And the reality is that as we sit in committees in Brussels, none of us can prophesise with any degree of certainty where the next market disorientation or crisis will take place.”

Mr Nicholson added: “I was glad to have the opportunity to welcome the incoming Estonian Presidency, and I look forward to working with their team over the next six months.”