Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Questions (41)

Brendan Smith


41. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the outcome of recent discussions at the European Council of Agriculture Ministers and with the European agriculture Commissioner on CAP reform and funding for CAP post-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5621/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The new regulations for the CAP 2021-27 were launched on Friday 1 June 2018 by Commissioner Hogan. The proposals, as drafted, involve significant changes, including in relation to governance, the distribution of direct payments among farmers and the increasing environmental conditionality attaching to such payments.

Consideration of the CAP proposals is ongoing at EU level. Since the legislative proposals were launched in June 2018 a total of 25 Working Group meetings have taken place under the Austrian Presidency. The proposals are also discussed at the Special Committee of Agriculture meetings on a regular basis. In addition, CAP post 2020 is also a standing agenda item at every Agri-Fish Council meeting where I have discussed the CAP proposals extensively with my Agriculture Ministerial colleagues.

The Romanian Presidency outlined an equally intensive programme of Working Group meetings to discuss specific aspects of the CAP proposals for the duration of their Presidency.

I had a further opportunity to discuss the proposals at the recent Agri-Fish Council on Monday 28 January. Agriculture Ministers exchanged views on the new performance-based delivery model. Discussions focussed in particular on the annual deadline of reporting requirements, and a progressive approach to targets and possible deviations in the first two years of implementation of the new programme. My Ministerial colleagues and I also discussed the agricultural reserve and financial discipline. Also on the CAP proposals, we held an exchange of views on the wine related provisions set out in the common market organisation amended regulations, including the possibility of opening the market to new wine grape varieties. Commissioner Hogan informed delegations about the proposed green architecture. Also during the CAP discussions, a group of Member States, led by the Slovenian delegation, presented a declaration on having appropriate funding for rural development in the next MFF.

The overall level of the CAP budget post 2020 is a key priority for me. Member States are facing a 3.9% cut to Pillar 1 Direct Payments funding, and a 15% cut to Pillar 2 Rural Development funding. This is unacceptable in my view especially in light of the current developing situation surrounding Brexit. The retention of an adequate budget for the CAP post 2020 is a key priority for Ireland. The CAP budget is part of the Multiannual Financial Framework for the EU which is a matter for unanimous agreement by Heads of State and Government.

I have been advocating strongly amongst my agriculture counterparts to maintain a strong CAP budget. I co-signed a Joint Memorandum in Madrid in May last year, which calls 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.

We will continue to work together on this issue as the negotiations for the CAP post 2020 and its budgetary allocations progress, and I will continue to seek to secure the best possible outcome for the Irish agrifood sector.