Creed to meet EU ministers opposed to CAP cuts

This week the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, will meet with some of his European counterparts who are against the recently proposed cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020.

A number of European agriculture ministers will meet in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday (May 31).

A source close to the minister confirmed to AgriLand that Minister Creed will be in attendance and that he will contribute to the discussion.

It is understood that agriculture ministers from France, Italy and Spain have also expressed interest in attending the meeting –  referred to as a “mini-summit” in some international media reports.

The imminent meeting will take place the day before the European Commission is expected to publish its legislative proposals for CAP reform post-2020.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the CAP budget would be reduced by 5% under proposals presented by Gunther Oettinger – the European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources – in Brussels.

As part of the European Union’s proposed Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) budget for 2021-2027, Commissioner Oettinger proposed that direct payments would be cut by circa 4%.

A possible 15% cut to Pillar II funding is also on the cards.

It is believed that the total EU budget for the seven-year period will be €1.270 trillion – this translates into 1.11% of the EU27’s gross national income (GNI).

CAP represents almost 40% of the EU budget – or some €59 billion each year.

Following the announcement, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, claimed that the proposed cuts represented “a fair deal” for European farmers and rural areas – given the current strains on the overall EU budget.

Also Read: ‘This is a very fair outcome for farmers’ – Hogan on 5% CAP budget cut

He argued that Brexit will leave a €12 billion deficit in the EU’s annual budget and that there is a renewed prioritisation by members states on issues such as security, defence and migration.

Proposed CAP cuts ‘extremely disappointing’

The proposed cuts to the CAP budget in the period from 2021 to 2027 have been described by Minister Creed as “extremely disappointing“.

In a statement following the confirmation of these proposals, the minister stated that – over the next few years – farm families will be required to play a “vital role” in the protection and enhancement of the environment and the production of food “to the highest standards in the world”.

These high standards, and the family-farm model, are part of the fabric of European values; but come at a price that EU citizens have shown they are willing to pay.

“We need farmers to take active steps to mitigate climate change, protect water quality and biodiversity, and improve their competitiveness. A strong CAP is a prerequisite if these objectives, which are in the best interests of all citizens, are to be achieved,” he added.

Importance of CAP payments

Given the importance of CAP payments to farm families, Minister Creed maintained that a cut in funding is “simply not a realistic proposition“.

“With the loss of UK net contributions, this was always going to be a very difficult negotiation and – ultimately – the final decision rests in the hands of the member states and the European Parliament,” he said.