Written Answers. - Farm Retirement Scheme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

13 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the plans there are to index the farm retirement scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18937/03]

The rate of pension payable under the 1994 early retirement scheme is the maximum provided for by the EU Council regulation of 1992 under which the scheme was introduced. The regulation does not provide for indexation of payments. My Department's proposals for the current early retirement scheme, which is one of the measures in the CAP rural development plan for the period 2000 to 2006, included provision for annual increases in pension over the period of the plan. The European Commission rejected this proposal and insisted that a fixed rate be set instead. My Department then proposed a rate that was the average of the scale initially proposed. This was acceptable to the Commission and is the rate provided for in the new scheme.