The new legislative proposals for the CAP for the period 2021 to 2027 were launched on Friday, 1 June 2018 by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Phil 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. There will be some additional discretion for member states in configuring the measures available within parameters laid down in the draft proposals.
The proposals are complex and we are now in the middle of intensive and challenging negotiations for the next CAP to run from 2021 to 2027. I am working with the European Commission and other member states to shape these proposals into an effective new CAP. The new proposals allow for subsidiarity for member states but with an overall commitment by the European Commission to protect the common policy and avoid distorting the Single Market.
I have already indicated that I am open to considering some level of capping. Ireland has already applied the maximum level of degressivity allowable under the current regulations for payments over €150,000. The new proposals include a number of measures designed to move further in this direction including an overall mandatory cap of €100,000, degressivity for payments above €60,000, a complementary redistributive income support and the convergence of payments towards a minimum of 75% of the average payment per hectare nationally. These are currently draft proposals only and my Department is examining them carefully to assess their potential impact on applicants and to ensure that any such mechanisms can be implemented without undue complexity.
The new CAP proposals point to a more significant environmental ambition than the current CAP schemes, including in Pillar 1. It is a new departure for member states to be required to design a specific climate and environment scheme in Pillar 1 but this is something I support. It is consistent with my Department's long-term strategy for the agriculture sector, which recognises the critical importance of environmental sustainability. Protecting the environment and the sustainable development of agriculture are two sides of the same coin. There are also proposals for new conditionality requirements with an increased number of good agricultural and environmental conditions and statutory management requirements included in the draft proposals. It is essential that the new environmental conditionality is implemented effectively with common standards that are relevant and effective.
Farmers play a vital role in the provision of public goods and need to be adequately recognised and recompensed for this role. It is important that the overall level of the budget acknowledges the public goods being delivered by farmers. This places a particular focus on environmental aspects of CAP.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Negotiations on the CAP proposals are continuing under the Romanian Presidency. The Presidency has outlined its ambition to achieve a partial general approach at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of Ministers meeting in June. I will continue to work closely with my European colleagues on these issues with a view to achieving the best possible outcome for Ireland's farmers and agriculture sector.