EU agri ministers meet for roundtable talks on future of CAP

Ministers of agriculture from across the EU are meeting in Brussels today to adopt the European Council’s conclusions on the commission’s draft paper on ‘The Future of Food and Farming’ post-2020.

The communication sets out the guiding lines of the commission’s vision for the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020 – with the aim of “simplifying and modernising” the EU’s farm policy.

Through council conclusions, ministers are expected to contribute to the debate that will lead to the drafting of legislative proposals on the future CAP.

It is understood that Andrew Doyle, Minister of State for Agriculture, Food and the Marine is at the talks at the European Council today.

The CAP is currently under review as the current seven-year planning period for EU finances ends in 2020.

Brexit talks

Earlier today, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said a “decisive step” had been made towards UK’s orderly withdrawal from EU.

Although the landmark deal means transition arrangements will last for nearly two years after the Brexit divorce next year; issues on the Northern Ireland border remain to be resolved.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Barnier said: “We have reached an agreement on the transition period. The transition will be of limited duration.

We must have a workable and practical solution to avoid a hard border. The EU and UK agreed to include in the agreement text published today a note on how the Irish issues will be dealt with.

“We have agreed that both sides remain committed to December’s joint report in all its aspects. We have agreed that issues identified in the EU text must be addressed for finding a viable and legally sound solution.

“In particular, we agreed today that a backstop solution must form part of the legal text of the wider agreement. The backstop will apply unless and until another solution is found,” he said.

In the context of the CAP debate, today the EU ministers for agriculture will also be informed about the joint declaration of the Baltic states and Poland, on the commission communication on ‘The Future of Food and Farming’.

EU auditor report

Meanwhile, the European Court of Auditors has today called for future spending under CAP to be based on “ambitious and relevant” performance targets.

However, it must also “fully respect” the legality and regularity requirement, say the auditors.

The report adds that funds also need to be spent where they can achieve significant “EU added value“.

“The objective of the greening measure introduced with the last CAP reform – to enhance the CAP’s environmental performance – lacked specific targets for the measure’s contribution to the environment and climate.

Objectives should be quantified where possible – not just for outputs; but, also for results and impact.

“Agricultural funding may be allocated where it is likely to be fully spent; rather than where it addresses key needs and produces results”, said Joao Figueiredo, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the briefing paper.

“This reflects a culture of spending rather than a culture of performance,” he said.

CAP budget optimism?

Despite widespread speculation over the possible slashing of the CAP funding pot in light of the net loss of the UK’s estimated €12 billion annual contribution to EU coffers when it vacates the bloc; there appears to be a growing sense of optimism that the current budget will be maintained.

So far 21 of the 27 member states have stated that they are willing to make additional contributions to the EU budget – including lreland.

It is understood that the boost will come in the shape of an increase in Gross National Income (GNI)  contributions from 1% to 1.1% or 1.2%.