Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations
To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government his views on co-financing of rural development under CAP Pillar Two; the impact of Multi Annual Framework budget cuts to Pillar Two on rural development schemes here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12689/13]
The European Council agreement on the new multi-annual financial framework, MFF, is a good deal for Ireland and for Europe. The overall amount for the last MFF for 2007 to 2013, was €994 billion. The amount agreed for the 2014 to 2020 MFF is approximately €960 billion. Although this is slightly less than the previous financial period it is, nonetheless, a positive development in the context of the financial situation that prevails across Europe currently and particularly in relation to the significant budget available for the Common Agricultural Policy.
The agreement provides some €373 billion funding for sustainable growth - natural resources, largely agriculture and fisheries - and it supports a continuing strong CAP. It will deliver some €1.2 billion per year in direct payments to farmers under Pillar I and €313 million per year under Pillar II, including a specific allocation of €100 million for rural development under Pillar II. It will give vital support to our agrifood industry which is growing and continuing to create employment. Ireland also secured a further €100 million for the BMW region from the ERDF. All of this combined means that Ireland will be in a strong position for the next programming period of 2014 to 2020.
The next stage is for the European Parliament to agree to the deal. In parallel with these discussions, the negotiation processes for the large range of regulatory instruments required to implement the various parts of the MFF will continue. The MFF provides for flexibility regarding the co-financing rates for various areas of rural development including Leader, for which my Department has responsibility. Final decisions on the specific nature of the co-financing arrangements for the Leader elements of the rural development programme remained to be negotiated and in this context, my Department and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, will be taking forward the discussions with a view to obtaining the best outcome for Ireland.
This is similar to what happened with septic tank registration. The Minister wanted people to register before the grant was available. It would seem reasonable to make the grant available first. The Minister owes those involved €45 each.
The Deputy has taken €45 out of the pockets of those in Connacht-Ulster. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan's people were involved in that as well.
The second thing the Government has managed to do is to be involved in bringing about, for the first time ever, a decrease in the money available under the CAP. Will the Minister explain how what his party, in opposition, described as a purely Irish financial crisis has suddenly become a European one? Does he agree that the level of Leader funding that will be available on the next occasion will be much less than we achieved during the previous round? Will he indicate the negotiations he has had with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine regarding the breakdown of the €313 million available from Europe in respect of outside-the-farm-gate mechanisms such as Leader and inside-the-farm-gate schemes such as the installation aid, farm retirement, disadvantaged areas and agri-environment options schemes?
I regularly discuss these matters with my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Coveney. The negotiations between us on how the moneys agreed under the multi-annual financial framework some weeks ago will be divided are just starting. A stakeholder consultation was undertaken by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and interested parties were invited to make submissions. More than 80 submissions are currently under consideration. I expect that, arising from these, both Departments will be engaging in negotiations in the coming weeks and months in order to obtain the best possible deal for the rural development programme. I acknowledge that there will be less money available in the next round.
Can we take it that the amount available will be at least 11% lower than previously? Could the reduction be as high as 20%? Will the Minister confirm that when inflation is taken into account, the MFF allocation for rural development will actually be 18% lower than was the case previously?
-----wants to pull out of the European Union because it is of the view that too much money is being spent on the programmes involved. It is going to hold a referendum on whether the county should remain in the EU. The British Prime Minister has a say at the negotiating table and he obtained some of what he was seeking in respect of these matters. A significant amount of money remains available and it is not that much less than was available under the previous programme.
Only the Deputy is interested in inflation. I am using the same figure that has been used for the past seven years and comparing it with figure his Government negotiated. We are comparing like with like.
May I answer the question? The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and I will be in discussions and we will let the Deputy know the outcome in due course.