Brexit and CAP high on the agenda of ministerial meetings

Both Brexit and the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were high on the agenda as the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, met with some of his European counterparts.

Minister Creed held separate talks with his Danish and Belgian counterparts on the margins of the Informal Council of Agriculture Ministers in Sofia, Bulgaria, today (Tuesday, June 5).

The discussions with Jakob Ellemann-Jensen and Denis Ducarme focused on the current situation in relation to Brexit in the lead-up to this month’s European Council, and on CAP reform issues following the recent publication by the European Commission of its proposals for the post-2020 period.

Speaking after the meetings, the minister said: “We had a very useful exchange, in particular on the state of play in relation to Brexit.

“Both of my colleagues are relatively recent appointees, so I outlined the potential difficulties that Brexit will create for Ireland’s agri-food sector given our exposure to the UK market and the critical importance of facilitating Irish exports – through the UK land bridge – to the EU market.

We also discussed shared concerns about the progress made to date on the withdrawal negotiations, and about the need for the UK to engage in a much more substantive way on the key issues – particularly in relation to the avoidance of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

“I acknowledged member states’ support for Ireland’s position to date, and was again very struck by the degree of commonality evident in today’s discussions,” he said.

Minister Creed and his European colleagues agreed that officials from their respective departments should remain in close contact in relation to “potential areas of practical cooperation that might be necessary as the negotiations unfold”.

CAP priorities

During the meetings, the minister also outlined Ireland’s priorities under the CAP – which he emphasised were underpinned by the need to secure an “adequate budget” for the CAP from the recently-commenced negotiations on the post-2020 Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF).

Commenting on the matter, he said: “Our exchanges today on CAP reform were very instructive. I emphasised in particular the importance of an adequate budget if we want to achieve the objectives we have set ourselves.

Indeed, this was a point that I reiterated very strongly at today’s informal council discussions, which focused on the need for generational renewal in agriculture.

“It was evident from today’s bilateral meetings that – while we have sometimes differing approaches – we share the common objective of ensuring that the CAP continues to underpin the development of the European agri-food sector.

“This provides the basis for what I hope will be very fruitful discussions over the coming months, starting in Luxembourg the week after next.”