‘Without adequate funding the CAP is an empty vessel’

Without adequate funding, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is an empty vessel, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

The minister made the comments in his address to the ‘Cap sur la Pac’ Conference at the OECD Paris.

He said: “This is a complex, but critically important issue for the future of the European Union. Against the background of the broader political challenges which face the union at present, the provision of adequate funding for this common policy is more important than ever.

“The CAP binds the members of the European Union in a collective commitment to food security, environmental sustainability, and the protection of farm families and rural communities.

Without adequate funding the CAP is an empty vessel.

Minister Creed took the opportunity to remind those in attendance that the policy guarantees food security for over 500 million European citizens.

As well as this, it helps to ensure that rural areas that are home to 55% of EU citizens are economically viable, and are not abandoned – alongside underpinning employment for 44 million people within the wider food sector.

The minister argued that the CAP is “vital to the survival of rural and coastal areas where alternative employment opportunities do not readily exist”.

In Ireland, CAP supports an agri-food sector that employs more than 173,000 people. This is 8.6% of total employment.

Minister Creed explained that member states need to improve at communicating the “great benefits” of the CAP to the citizens of the European Union.

“We have to explain that the CAP is not just a policy for farmers, but that represents the very best of the economic and social solidarity that binds us together as a community of member states.

“In many ways it is symbolic of all that is good about the European Union. However, stakeholders need to do more to better articulate the benefits of CAP for EU citizens,” he said.

‘A policy of the future, rather than the past’

Concluding, Minister Creed said: “The CAP has an image problem. If we are to fix it, we must ensure that it is seen as a policy of the future rather than the past.

Its value in underpinning investment, research, and innovation, and its practical application at farm level, must be appreciated.

“We must also explain to citizens how it helps to improve competitiveness and resilience in the face of economic and climate challenge. We must explain that it underpins the production of food, using the highest standards of quality, safety and animal health and welfare in the world.

“We must explain how it helps farmers to contribute to a better environment. And we have to do more under every single one of these headings.

“And if the CAP is to achieve all that we expect of it, we must ensure that its critical importance to the future of the European Union is fully appreciated, as we face into what will be a very challenging negotiation in relation to the financial framework of the European Union,” he said.