Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has said that there is shaping up to be a ‘long and fierce battle’ to defend the EU’s agriculture budget.
Commenting as discussions begin regarding the EU’s budget post 2020, Mr Nicholson said: “The EU’s Budget Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva is proposing to begin the discussions regarding the EU’s post 2020 budget package.
“At present the CAP accounts for some 40% of the EU budget, with a further 30% going on Regional Policy. I have concerns that there will be great pressure on agriculture as other policy areas seek to make inroads into its current share of the budget. That was the challenge we faced when the present budget covering 2014-2020 was formulated, we had to fight hard to secure agriculture’s allocation. I will fight for the interests of agriculture as the debate develops in the months ahead.
“At a time when the incomes of farmers have reached an all-time low throughout Europe you could be forgiven for thinking that now would not be the time to attack the CAP budget. Not only is the production of food a key strategic issue but farmers also deliver a range of so-called ‘public goods’ which must not be overlooked.
“However, the vultures are already gathering with their arguments as to why agriculture’s share of the budget should be reduced. We must therefore be more vigilant than ever. This I predict will be a long and fierce battle for budget share between the competing interests and policy areas.”