Simplification proposals welcomed by Nicholson

MEP Jim Nicholson
MEP Jim Nicholson

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has welcomed proposals to simplify the CAP which have been announced by the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.

Commissioner Hogan attended a meeting of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee in Strasbourg this week to set out his proposals and debate a number of other pressing issues with MEPs.

Mr Nicholson used the opportunity to question the Commissioner on a number of matters of local interest, including; his plans to improve the Milk Market Observatory (MMO) and the Commission’s intentions regarding the future of private storage aid schemes. The Ulster Unionist MEP also asked for a progress report on the Commissioner’s initiative which aims to boost investment in agri-food through developing financial instruments in conjunction with the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Speaking after the debate Mr Nicholson said: “From speaking with farmers and agricultural consultants it is clear to see the negative impact that excessive bureaucracy and disproportionate penalties have on farm businesses. Because of the impact on the ground I welcome Commissioner Hogan’s proposals this week regarding measures to simplify the CAP.

“Having gone through the last CAP reform negotiations I recall commission officials fighting tooth and nail against some of the proposals the Commissioner has announced this week, such as the ‘yellow card’ system for minor over-declarations, when I and other MEPs advocated similar measures.

“2015 was probably one of the worst years I can remember for farming throughout the whole of Europe with so many sectors in trouble at the same time. As this week’s meeting was the first of 2016 I emphasised that the agricultural industry is still in difficulties and asked the Commissioner to outline his plans to beef up the MMO.”