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Common Agricultural Policy.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 11 March 2010

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Ceisteanna (46, 47, 48)

Niall Blaney

Ceist:

37 Deputy Niall Blaney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the negotiating process in relation to the future of the CAP after 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11857/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

67 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the need for an adequately funded CAP after 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11855/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Blaney

Ceist:

77 Deputy Niall Blaney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding the emerging issues in relation to the negotiations of the CAP post-2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11856/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 37, 67 and 77 together.

Broad discussions on the future of the CAP have been underway since the second half of 2008 when the French Presidency held a first policy debate at the Informal Agriculture Council. Since then, every Presidency has contributed to the debate with the Czech Presidency focusing, in particular, on the issue of direct payments to farmers and the Swedish Presidency on rural development issues. The Spanish Presidency is taking the debate forward with discussions on the role of market management measures. In addition to these discussions at Council, both I and my officials continue to engage with other Member States and the Commission bilaterally on the future of the CAP. In this regard I met recently with the new Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos, and outlined my objectives including the need for a robust and properly funded CAP.

Notwithstanding the discussions to date, concrete proposals have yet to emerge on the shape of EU agriculture policy beyond 2013. The Commission is expected to bring forward a formal Communication later this year on the future of the CAP, followed by legislative proposals in mid 2011. A first round of formal negotiations will commence on the Communication, leading possibly to the agreement of Council Conclusions, while the more intense phase of formal negotiations will commence once the legal proposals are tabled.

I launched a consultation process in July last year with stakeholders to obtain their views on what EU agriculture policies would serve Ireland and the EU best in the years to come. I am very pleased with the responses received. These responses will help to inform our position in the very important negotiations that lie ahead. Even though no formal proposals have been tabled a number of issues are already emerging, including:

CAP as a guarantor of food security, income supports and EU family farming and/or a supplier of environmental and other public goods,

Equalisation of payment rates between and within Member States and/or differentiating according to historical uptake, land use, land quality, land value, production costs etc.

Keeping rural development as a pillar of CAP or integration with cohesion policy, and

EU and/or national funding

My overarching view, which I have expressed at meetings of the Council and bilaterally to my Ministerial colleagues, is that we need a strong and adequately resourced CAP after 2013. This is a point I have pressed strongly in discussions to date and for which there is good support in the Agriculture Council. We must maintain a strong agricultural production base in the European Union in the future to take account of the challenges ahead in meeting increased demands for food. Any reduction in food production in the EU would be taken up elsewhere, where less efficient production systems exist, and would result in a heavier carbon footprint. We must also undertake food production and distribution in a manner that is sustainable in all its dimensions — economically, socially and environmentally.

I am realistic about the pressure for redistribution of funds between Member States. I am prepared to look at all options on this, but I will also require our partners in Europe to be equally realistic in their expectations. The current debate, which focuses solely on the distribution of direct payments, without any reference to other EU funding, is not balanced. As regards rural development I support the continuation of the current two-pillar structure. The core purpose of rural development policy is to support farmers in developing their productive capacity while securing the environment and ensuring the well being of the wider rural society. The recent revised RDP from Ireland showed a clear focus on competitiveness in the form of targeted investments and sustainability in the form of an agri-environment scheme with clear benefits for all. This points the way forward for that pillar.

I have a particular concern at the notion of co-financing of direct payments. In current circumstances, this would obviously be unaffordable for Ireland, and also for many other Member States. More fundamentally, it would arguably represent re-nationalisation of the only real common policy of the EU.

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