Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food
Common Agricultural Policy
Question 59: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the agreement reached at the March EU Agriculture Council on the broad approach to Common Agricultural Policy reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7705/11]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 55, 59 and 61 together.
Further reform of the CAP is under discussion because the current financial programming period for the EU budget, including funds for the CAP, will end in 2013. A Commission communication setting out broad policy options for the future CAP, "The CAP towards 2020", was presented on 18 November 2010. Following discussion of this communication at the Council of EU Agriculture Ministers, a majority of member states lent their support last month to a series of conclusions drafted by the Hungarian Presidency.
The Commission communication was the first formal step in the negotiating process for the CAP after 2013. The formal legislative proposals are due to be tabled by the Commission later this year. In that respect, the Presidency conclusions provide a strong signal to the Commission of the views of member states in this process. I believe the Presidency's text was an inclusive presentation of member states' positions and provides good guidance for the legislative work of the Commission.
The key issue for Ireland is that future EU agriculture policy should be common and well-funded, should address the twin objectives of increased competitiveness and sustainability and should provide Ireland with a fair share of EU funds. The continuation of direct payments to farmers is fundamental to achieving these goals. Decoupled income supports, together with judicious use of market management measures, serve to support and stabilise farm incomes and provide a platform for the production of food, the sustainable management of our natural resources and balanced rural development.
We also need to provide a series of targeted measures in the second pillar so that member states can focus on the particular needs of their own regions and sectors. I am particularly focused on the need for investment measures to restructure and modernise family farms. We must also, of course, provide appropriate scope to assist farmers with measures to underpin and improve the sustainability of their production systems and to encourage afforestation.
The size of the CAP budget will be determined by Finance Ministers and EU Heads of State and Government in the negotiations on the next multi-annual financial framework. Aside from seeking a well- resourced CAP, my main priorities in the upcoming negotiations on the CAP are: - to retain Ireland's current share of funding both for direct payments and for rural development in any redistribution of CAP funds between member states; - to obtain maximum flexibility in the payment model or method for distribution of single payment funds to farmers within member states; and - to retain investment and afforestation measures in the list of options for member states in the Rural Development regulation.
It is very early days in these negotiations. We still have to see the detailed legislative proposals and there will be difficult negotiations ahead, firstly to secure adequate funding from the overall multi-annual financial framework, and then to secure the CAP policies that are best suited to Irish needs.