IRISH Farm Minister Simon Coveney has outlined Ireland’s plan for the six-month Presidency in the agri-food sector.
The key priority will be the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will be of significant importance in shaping the future structure of the agri-food sector in the EU.
“We have a very busy six months ahead of us with a number of significant dossiers to be progressed. My aim is to achieve overall political agreement on the reform of both the CAP and the CFP by June 2013,” said the minister.
“In relation to the CAP we will be initially focused on getting agreement at the Council of Ministers, representing all 27 member states, before progressing to formal negotiations with the parliament and commission. In this we will be building on the excellent work of the three presidencies that have gone before us. Obviously the issues that remain to be decided are those that have proven most difficult in the negotiations to date, but I am fully committed to leading the council to an agreement.”
The minister acknowledged that these targets were very ambitious. He emphasised that in order to achieve them, for the CAP in particular, there must be a successful outcome to the discussions on the Multiannual Financial Framework as early as possible in 2013, there must be rapid progress on outstanding technical and political issues, and all three institutions (the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission) must engage actively in the negotiating process.
He continued: “I am optimistic about the prospects for agreement, but I am also keenly aware that we need real determination from all of the protagonists across all three institutions to commit to the process and to do what is necessary if we are to successfully conclude the reform of the CAP. I look forward to seeing that determination, and I will not be found wanting in providing the necessary leadership.”
Minister Coveney pointed to the importance of the CAP in providing the appropriate policy framework for growth and development of the agri-food sector across Europe. He stressed the role of the sector in contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery, grounded on the principles of sustainability and competitiveness.
“For the future, the challenge is to produce more to meet the increasing demands for food from a growing world population while at the same time maintaining production methods that are sustainable in all meanings of the word: economically, environmentally and socially,” he stressed.