Creed updates Brussels on Ireland’s CAP concerns

Agriculture ministers from the EU member states held a meeting in Brussels today, Monday, November 18, to discuss the possible improvements to the environmental and climate-related aspects of the post 2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package.

At the meeting – which is potentially the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Phil Hogan’s final Council of Agricultural ministers before the move to his new role in trade – the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, said: “We are all facing real challenges when it comes to meeting our climate obligations.

We cannot have economic sustainability for agriculture if we do not ensure environmental sustainability and it is, therefore, appropriate that environmental sustainability is a key focus of the new CAP.

Minister Creed acknowledged that “Ireland has supported this” and said: “We accept the increased conditionality in Pillar I and the 30% target in Pillar II, while also arguing that, in order to encourage farmer participation and change the environmental outcomes, we must have effective incentives in place.

“We also still have concerns regarding the target proposed for fruit and vegetable sectoral programmes.

Ireland has not yet come to a firm view on the key question the presidency has put before us today regarding the proposal for a single percentage for environmental actions across both pillars.

“The details of the proposal will have to be developed further before we could come to any definitive conclusions.

“We support the higher environmental ambition for the CAP, and are ready to explore all possible options.”

During the meeting, Minister Creed outlined “a number of issues” that Ireland needs to consider:
  • Will the single percentage be a part of the new delivery model?
  • On what basis will it be decided whether measures will be partially or fully counted towards the target?
  • As Pillar I measures are annual and Pillar II measures are not, is there a risk that management of a single target could be unduly complex?

Continuing, Minister Creed stressed: “We must also bear in mind, and acknowledge, that some elements of Pillar I conditionality will produce greater environmental gains for some member states compared to others.

“For example, while ‘GAEC 2’ [on the protection of wetland and peatland] will impose a relatively heavier administrative burden on Ireland, it will also provide the opportunity to secure additional environmental benefits.

Ireland also considers that all existing Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) must be included in conditionality.

“Europe is proud of its high standards for food and its strong traceability. Citizens expect the CAP to deliver on this,” the minister noted.

Concerns

Minister Creed cautioned the council of ministers saying: “Ireland remains concerned that the operation of different control systems across member states could affect our level European playing field.

“With regard to small farmers, we have said we are open to considering appropriate proportionate treatment, and we are considering the possible environmental implications of the presidency’s proposals.

We welcome the presidency’s work on the definition of eligible hectare, but we believe that some additional consideration could maximise the environmental gain.

“Similarly, with regard to financial flexibility for Pillar I, further work is required to prevent any possible loss in funding with regard to the new ECO schemes.”

Concluding, Minister Creed stressed: “All of our green ambitions demand the necessary resources to make them a reality. We should agree ambitious proposals for the green architecture, and we must have the CAP budget to match our ambition.”

CLASSIFIED ADVERTS