European Union enlargement is a very distinct possibility with Ukraine the country most likely to make this a reality, according to EU Commissioner Mairéad McGuinness.

The commissioner made the comments as she delivered the Michael Dillon Memorial Lecture at the K Club last night (Friday, November 24).

The event was hosted by the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland and supported by Kerry Group.


Commissioner McGuinness would not be drawn on the possible time scales involved in EU expansion, but confirmed that such a development would raise fundamental questions regarding the future funding of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“Ukraine is the bread basket of Europe. It is a country within which large scale farming businesses currently exist.

“So the question then becomes: how can a farming model of this nature be assimilated within the existing CAP, which has evolved to maintain a farm-family model?” she said.

European Commissioner Mairéad McGuinness

The Commissioner who has responsibility for financial services, financial stability and capital markets union foresees major changes in the way that farm support will be delivered on foot of Ukraine joining the EU.

“This is a debate that we must have now,” she commented.


McGuinness characterised the EU of today as a body which delivers total transparency, where all its decision making processes are concerned and the European Parliament plays a key role in making this happen.

“Long gone are the days when European commissioners alone took all the key decisions in almost total isolation,” she said.

McGuinness regards food security as a key priority for Europe and the rest of the world.

In her opinion, Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has highlighted just how fragile the world’s current agri food supply chains are.

She specifically cited the decision taken by Singapore, a country she recently visited, to produce 30% of its own food requirements into the future.

“Singapore has no available land. So new technologies, including the use of vertical farming, will be relied upon to meet this target,” she said.

Referring to her own future plans, McGuinness confirmed that she will not be a candidate in the upcoming elections for the European Parliament.

However, she would like to secure a second term as Ireland’s representative to the EU Commission.

“I have always retained an interest in agriculture, both here in Ireland and across the EU as a whole and this will not change.

“In my current role, I have a unique opportunity to interface with a large range of economic sectors.

“And assessing future investment opportunities within farming and food is an important part of this remit,” she said.