EU outlook for 2015 to be dominated by dairy, says ICOS

The first quarter of 2015 promises to be very busy from an EU agri-legislation front.

As January looms, the new Latvian Presidency of the council is preparing to kick into action as the new European Parliament and Commission is firmly in office.

Milk

The ending of dairy quotas in the EU has dominated the political agenda for some time, and the recent weakening, of dairy markets, albeit from record highs, has made people nervous.

EU Commissioner Hogan has been robust in his response saying that the sector is ‘not in state of crisis’ and that farmers should take their own action to reduce supply and superlevy fines. There remain strong lobbies on both sides both some looking for the butterfat reduction and some looking for continued supply management so the next few months will be very interesting.

As markets weaken as we move towards peak European supply watch for possibly moves around the rules governing Private Storage Aid and Intervention, and the spreading of the superlevy bill over a number of years.

Another milk dossier, which will garner attention, are proposals to implement compulsory origin labelling on milk and milk products. This is an area fraught with danger, especially for an exporting country like Ireland, with some co-ops having a cross boarder supply and for our industry in general as some countries with to renationalize milk. Something ICOS thinks is unacceptable both from a single market perspective and a practical perspective.

New CAP

The new era kicks into gear on January 1, all eyes will be on how national governments use their discretion to implement the new programmes. There are fears that the new Common Agriculture Policy may not be so common, and also the effects of the new ‘greening’ regime.

Rural Development Plans

Acceptance of Irish and other Rural Development plans to 2020 are still ongoing despite the new CAP supposedly coming into being in January. Several countries have been approved, but Ireland still has no green light because of a number of questions put the Department by the Commission regarding the draft plans they submitted to them. There is some speculation that it could be as far as April before the Irish Rural development plan is passed.

Trade

It is clear that this is becoming the new buzz word in agriculture, with the next round of the EU-US negotiations on the TTIP pencilled in for their 8th run in February. Many in Brussels are becoming increasingly negative of progress as the US seems to be more interested now in concluding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the East.

It should not be forgotten, especially for an Irish agriculture point of view, that the EU has 13 other trade agreements in motion around the globe which are at various levels of completion.

Recent soundings of the launch of a potential new Australia/New Zealand trade deal will be followed with interest, and China remains on the back burner.

Other Files in Q1

The Commission seems to be engaging in a policy shift in supporting the pork market and now seems to be considering a targeted level of support through a private storage aid scheme in early 2015.

A new Emissions Trading Scheme for Green House Gas emissions for food processing plants is gathering momentum in the EU .

There will also be new laws down for discussion of interest to the Irish agri-business sector around organics, the school milk scheme, vet medications, seed law and retail/food chain issues.

Conor Mulvihill, ICOS European Affairs Representative.

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