Medicinal Products Availability

Ceisteanna (156)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

156. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health the reason there is a continued delay in the access to medication for patients with multiple sclerosis in view of the fact that there are a new drugs recently available and accessible in other EU countries, for example, siponimod; the steps he will take to expedite access of such drugs for patients; and the timeframe for same. [48467/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE has statutory responsibility for medicine pricing and reimbursement decisions, under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013. The Act specifies criteria for decisions on the reimbursement of medicines.

HSE decisions on which medicines are reimbursed by the taxpayer are made on objective, scientific and economic grounds, on the advice of the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE). The NCPE conducts health technology assessments (HTAs) for the HSE and makes recommendations on reimbursement to assist HSE decisions. The NCPE uses a decision framework to systematically assess a drug's clinical and cost effectiveness as a health intervention.

As a country, we invest heavily in medicines, to the tune of almost €2 billion annually. As of October 2019, there have been 29 new medicines and 5 new indications for existing medicines approved for reimbursement in the public healthcare system. The approvals to date represent an additional investment by the HSE over five years of approximately €220m in providing access to new and innovative treatment for Irish patients. It is expected that over 3,000 patients will benefit from access to these new medicines over the next 5 years

Notwithstanding the significant progress on drug costs achieved from price reductions under the pricing framework agreed with industry and commercial negotiations conducted by the HSE, the Health Service is still facing very significant challenges in relation to the affordability of medicines. The industry continues to develop very expensive products, particularly in the high-tech medicines area and the costs involved are a challenge for health systems even in countries with much greater resources than Ireland.

The HSE has received 2 applications for pricing and reimbursement of ocrelizumab (Ocrevus). Application 1 is for use of Ocrelizumab for the treatment of adult patients with relapsing forms of Multiple Sclerosis (RMS) with active disease defined by clinical or imaging features. Following a number of rounds of commercial negotiations, an agreement was reached in relation to the commercial terms which will apply to this indication. The HSE intends to progress ocrelizumab for the RMS indication, which has been approved for funding from October 2019, on a patient-specific basis for this indication.Application 2 is for the use of ocrelizumab for the treatment of adult patients with early primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) in terms of disease duration and level of disability, and with imaging features characteristic of inflammatory activity. On 4 October 2018 the NCPE completed its assessment for this indication. They did not recommend that ocrelizumab be reimbursed for this indication.The HSE and the manufacturer have had a number of rounds of commercial negotiations in relation to this indication. Commercial discussions have concluded and the medicine has been reviewed by the HSE Drugs Group. The HSE Senior Leadership Team have received the Drugs Group recommendation. The HSE's final decision on reimbursement will take into consideration the criteria contained in the 2013 Health Act.

The HSE has also received an application for reimbursement of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol/Cannabidiol, THC/CBD (Sativex) which is indicated as treatment for symptom improvement in adult patients with moderate to severe spasticity due to multiple sclerosis who have not responded adequately to other anti-spasticity medication and who demonstrate clinically significant improvement in spasticity related symptoms during an initial trial of therapy.

The HSE commissioned a full HTA with respect to this indication in April 2018. On 25 September 2019, the NCPE received the applicant's submission and the HTA is currently underway.

On 14 November 2019, the EMA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommended the granting of a marketing authorisation for the medicinal product siponimod (Mayzent), intended for the treatment of adult patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) with active disease. The EMA's decision on whether to grant marketing authorisation for siponimod will take into account CHMP's recommendation.

The Government wants new and innovative medicines to be available to our citizens as quickly as possible but this can only be achieved if medicines are priced by the pharmaceutical industry in a viable and sustainable manner. My Department and the HSE are working on making greater efficiencies in medicines usage through a range of initiatives both domestically and internationally to ensure the greatest possible access to new treatments for patients in Ireland.

The HSE’s Medicines Management Programme (MMP), incorporating the Preferred Drugs initiative, is overseeing the implementation of a number of actions to bring about greater value for the taxpayer through cost-effective provision of medicines. These measures include the designation of preferred products with a focus on high-cost prescribing areas, in particular optimising the use of biosimilars.

I and officials have also been engaging over the past number of years with a number of voluntary EU forums. In June 2018, I signed the Beneluxa Initiative on Pharmaceutical Policy. This Agreement is in line with my objective to work with other European countries to identify workable solutions, in an increasingly challenging environment, to secure timely access for patients to new medicines in an affordable and sustainable way. In June 2019, Ireland became a Founding Member of the International Horizon Scanning Initiative which is being established as part of the work programme of Beneluxa.

National Treatment Purchase Fund Data

Ceisteanna (157, 158, 159)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

157. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Health the breakdown on the year-to-date distribution of the 2019 €75 million budget of the NTPF amongst each private and public hospital benefitting from same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48457/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

158. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Health the amounts paid to individual public hospitals receiving NTPF and other HSE funding for the purposes of insourcing and outsourcing of surgical procedures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48458/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

159. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Health the number and types of surgical procedures and treatments carried out to date in 2019 by each public and private hospital under the NTPF scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48459/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157 to 159, inclusive, together.

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being collated by officials in my Department and will be provided to the Deputy directly as soon as it becomes available.

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Ceisteanna (160)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

160. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health if he will consider the lack of pump services available for adults with type 1 diabetes in Sligo University Hospital (details supplied); his plans to address same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48472/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly, as soon as possible.

Hospital Waiting Lists Action Plans

Ceisteanna (161)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

161. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health if he will consider the recent figures of the rising number of persons that are waiting on trolleys in Sligo University Hospital; his plans to introduce more beds at the hospital in the short term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48479/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I wish to acknowledge the distress overcrowded EDs cause to patients, their families and frontline staff working in very challenging working conditions in hospitals throughout the country.

According to HSE TrolleyGAR data, there was a 3.2% increase in patients counted waiting on trolleys at 8am in Sligo University Hospital ED this year up to the end of October 2019 compared to the same period last year. My Department has engaged extensively with the HSE this year to identify mitigating actions to bring down trolley numbers and waiting times in the ED in the face of growing demand.

The HSE Winter Plan was launched on Thursday 14 November. The aim of the Winter Plan is to ensure that service providers are prepared for the additional external pressures associated with the winter period, including the prolonged holiday period, severe winter weather, seasonal influenza, and the spread of norovirus and other healthcare associated infections.

Nine Winter Action Teams, each aligned to a Community Healthcare Organisation and associated acute hospitals and Hospital Groups, have prepared Integrated Winter Plans. These plans focus on demand management and reduction, staffing availability, timely access to the most appropriate care pathway for patients, and appropriate timely discharge from acute hospitals.

The Integrated Winter Plan for Sligo University Hospital will be delivered by Winter Action Team 1 (WAT 1), whose membership includes the CEO of the Saolta University Health Care Group, the Chief Officer of CHO 1, and the CEO of Sligo University Hospital.

The HSE Winter Plan is supported by an additional €26m in winter funding nationally. This winter funding will support access to the Fair Deal scheme, and will provide additional home support and transitional care to facilitate timely hospital discharge and reduce congestion in EDs over the winter period.

Specific funding has been allocated to the Winter Action Teams to support initiatives at local level. The initiatives for WAT 1 include:

- added Medical Registrar for improved medical cover;

- rapid flu testing to reduce turnaround time to 2 hours;

- additional cleaning services to improve bed turnaround time out-of-hours;

- a reablement programme to decrease presentations and admissions;

- additional aids and appliances to facilitate timely discharge; and

- hospital avoidance measures to reduce the number of patients admitted for assessment.

The HSE is responsible for the delivery of public healthcare infrastructure projects and has advised that preliminary design work and site investigations have been carried out for the proposed new ward block development and additional bed capacity at Sligo University Hospital. Planning approval was granted in July 2019 and the project is currently at the detailed design stage.

It is important to recognise that all capital development proposals must progress through a number of approval stages, in line with the Public Spending Code, including detailed appraisal, planning, design and procurement, before a firm timeline or funding requirement can be established. The final decision to proceed with the construction of a project cannot be made until the tender process has been completed and the costings reviewed to ensure that the proposal delivers value for money and remains affordable, and that sufficient funding is available to fund the project to completion, including equipping and commissioning costs. The delivery of capital projects is a dynamic process and is subject to the successful completion of the various approval stages, which can impact on the timeline for delivery.

Hospital Services

Ceisteanna (162)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

162. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health when the hospital will be permitted to obtain a new fixed cardio cath lab service to cover the north west region in view of the fact that the national review conducted to investigate the provision of the services here has not yet reported despite the timeline for its work to be completed being long overdue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48480/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

To date the National Review has completed a public consultation survey, collated and analysed information on activity levels in each of the Hospital Groups and all hospitals within each Group. A successful and well attended stakeholder consultation was held in November 2018. The Health Research Board - Collaboration in Ireland for Clinical Effectiveness Reviews (HRB-CICER) has completed an Evidence Review of Specialist Cardiac Services looking at (i) international standards for PCI centres (ii) international models that might be applicable to the Irish Healthcare system and (iii) the relationship between volume and patient outcomes for PCI. The Evidence Review has provided important guidance for the Steering Group thus far and arising from discussions at the Steering Group they have been asked to complete one additional evidence review question which they have now completed and submitted to the National Review for comments and observations. Site visits to Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) centres around Ireland commenced earlier this year and an international site visit to Glasgow is currently being organised. These site visits have included meetings with stakeholders in clinical, administrative, nursing and allied health professional roles. A visit to Northern Ireland was also undertaken to review the work of the Belfast Hospital Trust.

An additional workstream is being undertaken by the Health Intelligence Unit of the HSE with regards to Geospatial analysis and mapping of networks of cardiac services from a national perspective and a draft has been submitted to the National Review for comment and observations.

Work is ongoing on preparation of the National Review and the Chair is hoping to have the National Review of Specialist Cardiac Services completed as soon as all streams of work have been completed.

Defibrillators Provision

Ceisteanna (163)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

163. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health his plans to support voluntary groups that wish to install cardiac defibrillators in their towns and villages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48486/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

An Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) Steering group have finalised an Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Strategy for Ireland, “Putting Survival at the Heart of the Community” and submitted it to the HSE Commissioners, who have accepted the recommendation of the Steering Group. The HSE are currently in the process of establishing an Implementation Governance Group to oversee implementation of the Strategy.

The overall aim of the OHCA Strategy is to increase the number of people who survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest in the Republic of Ireland through the development, implementation and evaluation of an out of hospital cardiac arrest strategy to increase survival rates. This work will support the National Ambulance Service (NAS) and Community First Responder Ireland (CFR Ireland) in their commitment to improve clinical outcomes for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA).

The Strategy aims to make Ireland a leading ‘beating heart’ in Europe as a result of implementing a strategic plan derived from national and international experience in implementing targets which address all the elements in the Chain of Survival. In order to achieve the aims outlined, the Strategy discusses, among many other things, maximising public awareness of how to recognise OHCA; reducing emergency response time; the importance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation training; bystander CPR training; ‘CPR 4 Schools’; CPR training in local communities; CPR training for government and HSE employees; the establishment of 250 Community First Responder Schemes in Ireland by 2020; guidance on the purchase, display, positioning, accessing, use and maintenance of automated external defibrillators and much more.

Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (164)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

164. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which diagnosis and treatment has progressed in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48495/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.

Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (165)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

165. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent of the diagnosis and treatment to date in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48496/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.

HSE Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (166)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

166. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Health the status of the recruiting of a community geriatrician for County Kildare (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48523/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.

Farm Enterprises

Ceisteanna (167)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

167. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding social farming in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48372/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department provided an allocation of over €713,000 for Social Farming in 2019 under the Rural Innovation and Development Fund (RIDF). A number of Social Farming initiatives are currently being implemented across the country and the following contracts have recently been extended for a further year:

- The Social Farming Network Project with associated funding of €350,000 will allow Leitrim Development Company to continue to develop the network of social farming in Ireland in conjunction with the regional hubs and to progress towards sustainable commissioning arrangements for the provision of Social Farming placements.

- Funding of €119,504 is being provided to Down Syndrome Ireland (Cork Branch) for the “Field of Dreams”, a horticulture centre for adults with Down Syndrome to enable them to participate in meaningful training and to provide “hands-on” horticulture work opportunities in a secure, caring and inspirational environment.

- Funding of €123,000 is being provided to South Kerry Development Partnership to continue to offer a choice to people with disabilities to engage with farm families and the community in meeting their personal development goals.

- Funding of €121,000 is being provided to Leitrim Development Company for the continuation of the delivery of evidence-based learning, best practice and policy recommendations which should contribute to the promotion and development of social farming in Ireland.

The 2020 allocations under the Fund have not yet been finalised.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (168)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

168. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a farm payment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48279/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2019 Basic Payment Scheme/Areas of Natural Constraints schemes application on 17 April 2019. EU Regulations governing the administration of these schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including, in some cases, Ground Eligibility inspections, be completed before any payments issue.

The application of the person named was selected for a Ground Eligibility inspection. The outcome of this inspection is currently being finalised with the intention of issuing any payment due as soon as possible. In the event that any queries arise, officials in my Department will be in contact with the person named.

Payments have recently commenced to BEEP participants who have completed the weighing and submission of data in respect of all of their eligible animals. According to records submitted to the Department, the person named had not submitted weights for all his eligible animals. Therefore his payment has not yet issued. Final payments, including to the person named, are scheduled for December 2019.

Animal Welfare

Ceisteanna (169)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

169. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of an animal welfare ex-gratia funding payment (details supplied). [48281/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In recognition of the importance of the work of animal welfare bodies, my Department have been providing funding directly to animal welfare bodies since 1995. This assists them in providing valuable services in the area of animal welfare. In December 2018, I announced record funding awards of €2,751,000 to 108 animal welfare organisations throughout the country.

An advertisement was placed in the national press earlier this year inviting applications from welfare bodies for funding in respect of their activities in 2020. Applications for funding from animal welfare bodies are assessed and awards made on the basis of certain criteria, including the level and type of assistance provided by the organisation in the delivery of care and welfare services to animals and the level of funding raised from other sources to support welfare activities. To date, 110 applications have been received including one from the organisation named. These are currently being processed and I expect to make an announcement on funding by the end of the year.

Bovine Disease Controls

Ceisteanna (170)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

170. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of new EU level proposals that will mandate the testing of cattle for TB every six months. [48282/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

New bovine TB rules are contained in the Delegated Act (DA) on Part II of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on surveillance, eradication programmes and free status of animal diseases. The original proposals from the EU Commission were quite severe and would have had a significant negative impact on Irish farmers. The original draft proposals included:

- 12 month minimum TB restriction period

- Prohibition on any inward/outward movement in restricted herds

- Derestriction only to occur following two clear tests 6 months apart

- Compulsory 30-day pre/post movement test in ALL cases

During the negotiation of the legal text, my officials engaged intensively with Commission counterparts and experts from other Member States on this issue. Ireland was successful in achieving considerable changes to the draft TB regulations to the benefit of Irish farmers in negotiations on all points but one - which though modified did not fully meet our requests.

The current draft text retains the 30 day pre/post movement test requirement, however only where the animal and the herd of origin have not been tested in the last 6 months. My officials had proposed the introduction of risk-based pre/post movement testing, supported by peer-reviewed scientific research undertaken in Ireland. Our analysis shows that this approach would be more effective than across-the-board pre/post movement testing. There has been very limited support from other Member States for our position.

Ireland has approximately 2.2 million movements (counting farm-to-farm and farm-to-mart-to-farm each as one movement for these purposes) per year - not all of these existing movements would have been affected by the proposed measures. The new rule would mean that these movements would have to either take place within 6 months of the herd test, or the herdowner (buyer or seller) would have to have a pre/post movement test carried out

Animal Welfare

Ceisteanna (171)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

171. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the regulatory regime regarding the sale of dosing products for animals and the points of sale to obtain such products by farmers; if there has been a recent change by which such products can only be obtained from a veterinary practice; and if he has considered the additional burden and cost this may place on farmers obtaining such dosing products for their animals. [48285/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The routes of sale, including the requirement for a prescription for the dispensing of animal preventative remedies such as worm and fluke doses, are governed by SI No. 786 of 2007 European Communities (Animal Remedies) (No. 2) Regulations 2007 and are determined by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). There have been no recent changes to the current legislation.

However, new Regulations on Veterinary Medicinal Products (VMP) and medicated feed were adopted by the European Council on Nov 26th, 2018 and are due to come into effect from January 28th 2022. The objectives of the new legislation are to provide for a modern, innovative and fit-for-purpose legal framework on VMPs, strengthen the EU action to fight antimicrobial resistance and ensure economically-viable production of safe medicated feed, as well as to foster innovation for further veterinary product development.

My Department is responsible for the transposition of the new Regulations into Irish Law and is currently developing a public consultation process to be undertaken in 2020 which will provide opportunities for submissions in a number of key areas.

Organic Farming Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (172)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

172. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the average time by weeks and months it took to process new applicants when the organic farming scheme was reopened for a brief period in November 2018 for 30 days; and the number of applicants that were informed whether they were eligible to join the scheme or not in each month after November 2018, in tabular form. [48286/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Organic Farming Scheme is one of our most successful schemes under our current Rural Development Programme. The Scheme has more than achieved its targets in terms of new land converted and the maintenance of organic land. The area of land under organic production has expanded dramatically as a direct result of my Department's investment. Latest figures indicate that there are now some 72,000 hectares under organic production, an increase of nearly 50% on the position at the start of the Programme in 2014.

As a further vote of confidence in the organics sector by this Government, my colleague Minister Doyle established an Organic Sector Strategy Group last year comprising relevant stakeholders and State bodies. Part of the remit of the Strategy Group was to consider the case for a possible re-opening of the Organic Farming Scheme. They recommended that it should be re-opened but on a targeted basis. The areas targeted were areas for which there is a clear market demand, and which are critical to the further development of the Organic Sector, namely horticulture, cereals and dairy. This recommendation acknowledged that the budget was very limited given the success of the current scheme and the overall spending within the RDP.

The targeted Organic Farming Scheme re-opened on the 19 November 2018 and closed for applications on 19 December 2018. As part of the eligibility process applicants were required to submit a BPS application, which had a closing date of 15 May 2019, and also had to submit their Organic training certificate by 1 September 2019. The determination of eligible applications and the ranking and selection process could only commence following the deadline for receipt of educational certification.

The timing of informing the applicants and their numbers is set out in the following table.

Type

Number

Time

Successful

55

9 weeks

Unsuccessful

111

9 weeks & 2 days

The Deputy should be aware that the predominant farming enterprises in 95% of the unsuccessful applications were not from the targeted sectors.

I fully expect that there will be a new Organics scheme under the next CAP. I would encourage all stakeholders to make their views known on the shape of this future scheme as part of the wider CAP consultation process.

Common Agricultural Policy Reform

Ceisteanna (173)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

173. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the date by which Ireland formally must submit its final CAP strategic plan to the EU Commission; and if there will be increased demands on his Department in relation to administrating the new delivery model and the move to performance instead of compliance based approach as set out in the European Commission CAP proposals published in June 2018. [48287/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The proposals for new regulations for the CAP 2021-27 were launched in 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.

One important element is the new delivery model, which originally required Member States to submit their draft CAP Strategic Plan covering Pillar I and Pillar II expenditure to the Commission for approval before 1 January 2020. However, given the typically challenging nature of the discussions on the CAP and the EU Budget post-2020, there has been a delay in adopting these proposals.

As a result, the European Commission has recently published its proposals for transitional measures to allow for continuity between programming periods of 2014-2020 and 2021-2027 for CAP payments. The draft proposals provide for an additional, transitional year before starting the new CAP, which would require Member States to submit their draft CAP Strategic Plans to the Commission for approval by 1 January 2021. The proposals will be discussed by Member States over the coming months, and my officials are currently assessing their content.

I am open to working with the new delivery model and welcome the move to a more strategic, performance-based approach. However, this new framework must be based on a system which provides simplification for all.

The development of the draft CAP Strategic Plan will be a complex process, involving a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, a needs assessment, scheme design, an ex-ante evaluation including a Strategic Environmental Assessment, and an Appropriate Assessment.

A key element of the development of the Plan is regular stakeholder and public consultation. My Department has held a series of external stakeholder events, public consultations and public meetings since January 2018. In addition, in May 2019, I established a national CAP Stakeholder Consultative Committee, which meets regularly as the CAP negotiations evolve. In September, I launched a public consultation on the SWOT analysis, and as part of this process, my Department hosted a series of ‘townhall’ events in Mitchelstown, Sligo and Portlaoise, as well as a stakeholder workshop in Tullamore. The next stage of formal consultation is under consideration and its timing will be related to the progress of the discussions on the proposals.

In the meantime, my Department will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders and interest groups through existing forums and structures to update them on the progress of discussions and to hear their views.

Common Agricultural Policy

Ceisteanna (174)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

174. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department carried out an analysis on the new green architecture as set out in the new European Commission CAP proposals published in June 2018; and his views on this architecture and the new eco scheme proposed. [48288/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The European Commission's proposals for the post-2020 CAP commit to a more significant environmental ambition than the current CAP schemes. It is proposed that EU payments will be subject to a common baseline of conditionality with a number of requirements for good agriculture and environmental conditions for land. In Pillar I, an eco scheme, which would be mandatory for Member States to offer, but voluntary for farmers, is provided for. I support the provision of eco schemes. However, at this stage, it is too early to say how such a scheme, or other environmental schemes, might be configured.

The Commission proposals require 40% of the total CAP budget, at EU level, to be dedicated to environmental and climate actions. Member States must ensure that 30% of Pillar II funding - excluding funding for Areas of Natural Constraint - will be devoted to the environment and climate change.

I firmly support the principle that there must be a high level of environmental ambition in the CAP post-2020. I believe that the economic development of the agri-food sector goes hand-in-hand with the need for environmental sustainability. However, it is essential that the proposed new environmental conditionality is implemented effectively, with common standards that are relevant and effective. It is also important that the overall level of the budget acknowledges the public goods being delivered by farmers.

My key priority remains to continue to press for agreement on the CAP reform proposals and on the maintenance of the CAP budget as part of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework for the post-2020 period. I will continue to work at building consensus among my agriculture colleagues in Europe in this regard.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (175)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

175. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of times he has met with insurance companies and Insurance Ireland since 1 January 2016; the date of each meeting; the persons or bodies he met with; the purpose of each meeting in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48294/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I have had no meetings with such organisations during the relevant period.