Thursday, 7 November 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
168. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of discussions at the most recent EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting regarding CAP proposals post 2020, national strategic plans, environmental measures being considered, distribution of payments, transitional proposals being considered and discussions on EU MFF proposals. [45861/19]
At the most recent EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council which took place in Luxembourg on 14-15 October 2019, the Finnish Presidency presented a ‘state-of-play’ on discussions of the CAP post-2020 reform package, where my Ministerial colleagues and I exchanged views on the key issues that are deemed to require further consideration.
One such issue is the proposed new delivery model for Member States' CAP Strategic Plans. I have previously stated that I am open to working with the new delivery model, and I welcome the move to a more strategic, performance-based approach. However, this new framework must be based on a system which achieves simplification for all.
I also firmly support the principle that there must be a high level of environmental ambition in the CAP post-2020, and I believe that the economic development of the agri-food sector goes hand-in-hand with the need for environmental sustainability. However, it is essential that the proposed new environmental conditionality is implemented effectively, with common standards that are relevant and effective. It is also important that the overall level of the budget acknowledges the public goods being delivered by farmers.
Negotiations on the MFF proposals are running in parallel to the CAP post-2020 negotiations. Agreement requires unanimity at the EU Council and it is important to note that funding for the CAP is outside the remit of Agriculture Ministers. There are diverging views amongst Member States on the appropriate level for the budget, and further discussion is required before agreement can be achieved.
In this context, I have been working with my European counterparts to raise awareness and build consensus around maintaining a strong CAP budget post 2020:-
- In May 2018, I co-signed a Joint Memorandum in Madrid, calling for the CAP budget to be retained at current levels for the EU 27 post-2020. The memorandum has been supported by up to 20 other EU Agriculture Ministers.
- I have consistently called for an adequate CAP budget to meet the increasing demands being placed on farmers, particularly in achieving greater climate ambition. I have held multiple bilateral meetings with my European colleagues and have also raised the matter on several occasions with Commissioner Hogan.
- At the most recent Agri-fish Council in October, I joined with 16 Ministers from a number of EU Member States to reiterate the call for the CAP budget to be maintained post-2020, to meet the new challenges faced by European agriculture.
I also called for the urgent consideration of transitional measures as I consider that there is an obligation to provide a smooth path between the current CAP and the new CAP. I am pleased to see that the Commission has very recently published their proposals for transitional measures, and my Department officials are currently analysing the details with a view to feeding into upcoming discussions.
I will continue to work with my European counterparts to ensure the best possible outcome for Irish farmers from the CAP post-2020 negotiation process.