I propose to take Questions Nos. 254, 255, 257 and 258 together.
The European Commission published its proposal for the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021 - 2027 on 2 May last. It proposes a total CAP budget ceiling (EAGF and EAFRD) of just over €365 billion in commitment appropriations at current prices for the EU 27.
This compares to a ceiling of approximately €408 billion for the EU 28 in the MFF period 2014-2020 (table 1 of COM(2017), 554 final on 27/09/2017). This figure includes the UK ceiling in the period 2014 - 2020, which is approximately €27 billion. The comparable figure for the EU 27 therefore is approximately €381 billion. This is saving of approximately €16 billion over the seven year period, averaging €2.3 billion per annum.
The Commission has not published the proposed allocations for member states at this point.
I am disappointed with the proposed cuts to the CAP budget post 2020. Over the next few years farm families will be required to play a vital role in the protection and enhancement of the environment and the production of food to the highest standards in the world. These high standards, and the family farm model, are part of the fabric of European values, but come at a price that EU citizens have shown they are willing to pay. We need farmers to take active steps to mitigate climate change, protect water quality and biodiversity, and improve their competitiveness. A strong CAP is a prerequisite if these objectives, which are in the best interests of all citizens, are to be achieved. In addition, European agriculture is also facing into a period of significant market uncertainty against the background of Brexit.
An important point to note is that we are at the very beginning of what will be a long and complicated process as discussions on the MFF proposals get underway. In that context, I have been meeting with EU counterparts since January, most recently with the German and French Ministers, with a view to building consensus amongst farm ministers around the need for a strong CAP budget. Additional meetings are scheduled to take place with my counterparts from Poland, Romania and Belgium in the coming weeks.
I will continue to work closely with other Member States, the European Commission and Parliament to ensure adequate resource allocations and to achieve the best possible outcome for Ireland’s agriculture sector in the next programming period.