The Brussels’ machine moved to Dublin this week courtesy of Irish Farm Minister Simon Coveney’s hosting of a two day CAP reform summit.
In attendance were representatives of all the major decision making groups, including the EU Commission, the European Parliament and the EU Council of Farm Ministers.
Representatives of all three groups stressed that the objective of securing a CAP deal before the end of June remains in place.
Speaking at the end of the first day’s discussions, Minister Coveney confirmed that some progress had been made.
“But there are still issues to be resolved,” he stressed
Mr Coveney went on to point out that the final deal will result in farmers on the highest support payments taking a reduction, while small farmers will gain. He remains committed to a policy of sustainable intensification, which will allow Ireland and other regions of the EU to increase their agricultural output in light of the growing demand for food in many countries around the world. The Minister’s fundamental bottom line will be a final package that is fair to all farmers.
He also pointed out that, for the first time, agreement on CAP reform will be reached by means of a cross-institution, co-decision making process. This will involve the European parliament, Europe’s Council of Farm Ministers and the EU Commission.
Speaking in Dublin, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Paulo De Castro, said that he was committed to reaching an agreement, but warned that it would be challenging.
“It’s not very easy, we have 27 different approaches, we have three European Institutions,” Mr De Castro said.
He added: “This is the first important decision under the co-decision process, so it means all the three institutions should agree.”
There are still a number of major issues of disagreement between participants. They include how much of direct payments should be paid on land area rather than on volumes of production. The negotiating parties are also discussing what greening measures should be incorporated into the payments system and what the definition of an active farmer is.
Commenting on the latest CAP reform developments UFU president Harry Sinclair said that the issue of greening remains a key stumbling block to what he regards as an acceptable deal for agriculture in Northern Ireland.
“We have told the Commission that greening should not be a measure that impacts on local agriculture whatsoever,” he stressed.
“In fact, the province’s farming industry should be held up as a role model for the rest of European agriculture in this regard. The Union will continue to lobby all the key players in the CAP reform decision making process over the coming weeks.”