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. These proposals are complex and we are now in the middle of intensive and challenging negotiations for the next CAP 2021-27.
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 will have a further opportunity to discuss the proposals at the upcoming Agri-Fish Council on Monday 28 January.
I have always sought to have a broad consultation on these proposals. In February 2018, I launched my Department's public consultation process which included six meetings with stakeholders across the country. In addition, I hosted a Conference in July 2018 on the new CAP legislative proposals for interested stakeholders, including farm bodies, state agencies and the environmental pillar. The outcome from the consultation process and the stakeholder conference is feeding into the Department’s on-going analysis and policy response to the proposals.
This was a timely opportunity to bring all interested stakeholders together for a constructive discussion on the future CAP. The range of speakers came from the political sphere, from the European Commission, and from my Department. The conference was a very useful opportunity to hear the views of the many stakeholders involved.
Since then there have been ongoing informal consultations with stakeholders, including farm bodies, state agencies and the environmental pillar. The new delivery model requires Member States to submit their draft CAP Strategic Plan to the Commission for approval before the deadline of 1 January 2020 covering Pillar I and Pillar II expenditure. The CAP Strategic Plan will allow Member States the flexibility to design measures that are best suited to their own strategic needs within parameters laid down in Council Regulations.
My Department is working towards the 1 January 2020 deadline. The process of developing the draft Cap Strategic Plan will be a complex process, involving a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat (SWOT) analysis, a needs assessment, scheme design, ex ante evaluation including a Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment. The establishment of a Monitoring Committee including representatives from the key stakeholders, relevant Government Departments and agencies and the EU Commission is a requirement under the current draft proposals. The Committee will oversee progress on the implementation of schemes in the current Rural Development Programme (RDP) and will continue to have a role in the next programming period.
I am open to working with the new delivery model and welcome the move to a more strategic performance based approach. This new framework must be based on system which provides simplification for all. The new CAP proposals will be a key support in enhancing the competitiveness of the agri-food sector, achieving more sustainable management of natural resources and ensuring a more balanced development of rural areas. The negotiations for the CAP post 2020 are still ongoing and I will continue to seek to secure the best possible outcome for the Irish agri-food sector.