Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations
934. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the efforts being made to secure support at level EU to ensure the CAP budget is increased within the next European budget multi-annual financial framework, MFF; the efforts being made to maintain the transition period before the final budget is agreed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2919/20]
Agreement on the next MFF is a matter for Heads of State and Government, and requires unanimity by all Member States at the European Council. The proposed budget must also be agreed by the European Parliament.
Under the MFF draft proposals, the European Commission has proposed that funding for the CAP should be set at €365 billion, which equates to a cut of approximately 5%. I have repeatedly stated that this is unacceptable for Ireland, and I have worked hard with my European counterparts, and with Commissioners Hogan and Wojciechowski, to build consensus around the need to maintain a strong CAP budget post-2020.
For example, at the 2019 October Agri Fish Council, I joined with sixteen of my colleagues in reiterating the call we made in Madrid in mid-2018 for the post-2020 CAP budget to be maintained. I have also availed of every opportunity at Agri-Fish Council meetings to emphasise the fundamental importance of protecting the CAP budget, including most recently in November and December 2019, and again in January 2020, when the Council discussed the even higher level of climate change ambition that must now be reflected in Member States' CAP Strategic Plans in light of the new European Green Deal.
It is clear that there are divergent views among Member States on the appropriate level for the budget. Some (including Ireland) have indicated their willingness to increase their national contributions, once they contribute towards areas of added European value, while others feel equally strongly that the current proposals would be too costly. There is still some way to go before agreement can be achieved, and I can assure the Deputy that my Department and I will continue to ensure that protecting the CAP budget remains a key priority for Ireland in these negotiations.
As regards transitional arrangements, the Commission presented proposals for transitional rules in November to bridge the gap between the current CAP and the CAP post-2020. 2021 will be the transitional year, and the proposals are made assuming funding for 2021 at the level proposed under the MFF. This is normal practice when there are delays in finalising the EU budget and CAP proposals. Discussions on the proposals are continuing, and are not expected to conclude until mid-2020.