Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Questions (218)

Mick Barry


218. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in reference to comments made by the German Vice-Chancellor, Mr. Sigmar Gabriel, following the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union, the measures he will take to protect the incomes of small farmers and investment in rural communities should the budget for the Common Agricultural Policy be reduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21498/16]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I have indicated on a number of occasions since the UK referendum that one of the areas in which issues are raised from an agriculture perspective is the effect on the EU budget. The UK decision to leave the EU will result in a loss of the UK contribution to the EU budget of between 5 and 10%. This could have implications for future spending decisions in what is already a very tight budgetary framework, where CAP accounts for some 37% of the EU budget. The comments of Vice Chancellor Gabriel could perhaps be considered an early manifestation of that pressure.

However, there remains a very long road to travel on this issue. In terms of the current budgetary framework, allocations to Member States in respect of the period up to 2020 are set out in Regulations of the European Parliament and of the Council. Any changes to these allocations would require new regulations agreed by both institutions, a process which, if even considered, would be likely to take a considerable period of time.

Alternatively, the contributions of the twenty seven remaining Member States to the budget could be increased in order to ensure that the level of expenditure across all headings is maintained.

Again, it is too early to speculate on the likely outcome, and we must also bear in mind that much will depend on the progress of the exit negotiations between the EU and the UK, a process that may not even commence for some time yet.

More generally, I will of course continue to ensure that agriculture’s voice is a strong one and is fully taken into account during the mid-term review of the current Multiannual Financial Framework, and in the negotiations for the new, post-2020 Framework which are expected to commence in 2018. This will be based on the principle that the Common Agricultural Policy makes an important contribution to the achievement of EU priorities in the area of jobs and growth, particularly in rural areas, and should continue to attract the commensurate funding to ensure that this contribution is maintained.