IN the same week that the Ulster Farmers’ Union met with the Northern Ireland Assembly Agriculture Committee to raise farmers’ concerns in relation to the proposals for the reform of the Common Agriculture Policy post 2013, drawn up by Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, the proposals have also received widespread criticism at a historic meeting in the European Parliament.
The meeting brought ministers, MEPs and the Commission together for the first time where the proposals were condemned by nearly every speaker as being too complicated and too heavy with red-tape. UK Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said the greening of Pillar 1 was unnecessary when Pillar 2 was already ‘an effective place for greening the CAP’ and ‘something that the UK has been putting into practice for many years’. The chairman of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee Paolo De Castro (EU socialist) said the proposed measures would keep production down instead of promoting it. Many speakers also called for greater clarity over how CAP discussions would interplay with discussions over the EU budget.
Ministers want Pillar 1 flexibility
Ministers also continued their initial deliberations over the European Commission’s CAP proposals. On Monday (14 November) the Agriculture Council debated direct payments with ministers again criticising the greening proposals, capping and increased red tape. They also called for greater flexibility to redesign Pillar 1 to suit specific national characteristics. The French minister said 30% greening was ‘too high’ a point backed by a number of other countries including Germany and the UK. On Tuesday (15 November) the EU’s General Affairs Council, which is made up of Europe’s Foreign Ministers, will have an exchange of views on the CAP in the context of the EU long-term budget 2014-2020.
Animal transport regulation ‘beneficial’ for welfare
Last week the Commission published its report on the implementation of regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport. The report broadly concluded that animal welfare has improved but that enforcement at member state level remains a challenge and better control is required; in addition potential benefits from navigation systems have not been realised by either industry or national governments. A number of MEPs supported the report but animal welfare groups were critical, calling for tighter controls and the need to bring transport standards into line with current scientific knowledge.
Dairy Package discussions continue
The Polish presidency are quietly confident that there will be consensus on the dairy package prior to the December meeting of the plenary, where all MEPs will vote on the text. That said, there is a lot of work to be done in the meantime. At last week’s Trialogue meeting between the European Parliament, European Commission and Agriculture Council there was no agreement on a number of areas, including the duration and nature of milk contracts and the supply management of milk that will be used in the production of PGI or PDO cheese.