Written answers

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

European Council Meetings

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal, Independent)
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212. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way the position of Ireland fared at the AGRIFISH Council negotiations on CAP reform; and if any of the key positions of Ireland were accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37198/20]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The Agri-fish Council of Ministers reached an agreed general approach on the CAP Reform Package on 21st October, after more than two years of negotiations. The Council now has a political mandate and trilogue negotiations are underway with the European Parliament and Commission.  However, until overall agreement has been achieved we will not have certainty on the final shape of the CAP.

The Council position includes the proposed introduction of mandatory ECO schemes into the system of direct payments, and an enhanced baseline for environmental conditionality. A ring-fenced budgetary amount for ECO schemes of 20% of the direct payment budget has been agreed by Agriculture Ministers, with a two-year so-called 'learning' period permitted at the start of the CAP Strategic Plan, to allow Member States avoid any loss of unspent funds due to lower-than-expected take-up of ECO schemes.

I welcome the proposed introduction of new ECO schemes. Farmers will access these funds by undertaking additional actions which go beyond the basic environmental  requirements.  Member States will design schemes based on their own analysis of needs. 

The Council position also provides Member States with an option to cap the basic income support for sustainability at €100,000.  There will also be flexibility to reduce such payments above €60,000.  There is a focus on  support for young farmers and an amount equal to 2% of the Direct Payments envelope must be spent on attracting and sustaining young farmers.

I am satisfied that Ireland's interests have been protected in the Council agreement. My officials will continue to monitor progress in the trilogue negotiations, and to progress work on the development of Ireland's CAP Strategic Plan, including through ongoing consultation with stakeholders via the CAP Consultative Committee.

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