I propose to take Questions Nos. 32, 44, 55, 68 and 85 together.
The new Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolos, took up office on 10 February. I was in telephone contact with him the day following his appointment and I had a bi-lateral meeting with him on 22 February. We discussed a number of current issues including the future of the CAP. While it is relatively early stages in the negotiations on the future shape of the CAP I took the opportunity to set out my position in broad terms.
I impressed on the Commissioner my overall objective of ensuring a robust and adequately resourced CAP founded on the twin goals of competitiveness and sustainability. On the specifics I outlined my commitment to a two-pillar structure based on the continuation of full decoupling. I emphasised strongly the need for CAP income supports to preserve the small family farm structure of Irish and European agriculture both of which are essential to foster competitiveness. I also raised the issue of market management measures which have proven to be essential in addressing price volatility particularly in the dairy sector and which in my view, will continue to have a value in the future post 2013. We also touched on the question of security of food supplies and the challenge this would pose in the future. I explained that in my view agriculture has a significant role to play in boosting the EU economy and in achieving growth and jobs.
The Commissioner agreed on the need for a strong budget for the future CAP — a view he had already expressed during his hearing with the European Parliament when he said that he would defend the current CAP budget in order to meet policy goals which include providing European food security, meeting the needs of the market, ensuring environmental protection, fighting climate change and providing a decent standard of living for farmers. Commissioner Ciolos also agreed on the continuation of the two-pillar structure expressing the view that Pillar 1 supports are essential to support income and to finance public goods. He favours the retention of market management measures as a safety net that could be mobilised to assist sectors in trouble. I invited Commissioner Ciolos to visit Ireland as soon as possible. He accepted and said he is looking forward to visiting probably in the first half of the year.
Turning to the question of fisheries, the European Commission issued a Green Paper on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in April 2009 and sought responses to their proposals. My colleague, Minister Killeen, who has responsibility for the Fisheries portfolio, appointed Dr. Noel Cawley to chair a nationwide wide public consultation process. The result of these consultations contributed in no small way to Ireland's response to the Green Paper which issued on 23rd of February.
Our submission on the CFP reform sets down a number of informed recommendations which we believe must be incorporated into the new Common Fisheries Policy. They take a pragmatic approach, which promote measures that collectively take account of economic, social, environmental and sustainability factors. In this context Minister Killeen is scheduled later this month to meet with the new Fisheries Commissioner, Ms Maria Damanaki, to outline the key elements of Ireland's CFP Review submission and explain the changes that we consider are essential. This meeting is scheduled to take place on the 29th March.