Government halt to convergence ‘not acceptable’ – FF

Fianna Fáil has said that the decision by Minister Michael Creed to halt convergence of direct payments during the transition period for the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) is “not acceptable”.

The party has said it is “fully committed” to continuing the convergence process if it ends up in Government.

Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on agriculture, food and the marine, said there was “no reasonable basis” for convergence to be paused during the “likely two-year transition period” before the next CAP commences.

The delay in the implementation of the new CAP is as a result of new regulations and budgetary measures for the policy not yet being agreed.

In December of 2019, Minister Creed indicated his intention to place all internal convergence during the CAP transitional period on hold.

At the time, the minister said: “There is no operational need to implement internal convergence during the transitional period to ensure its success as a measure in the new CAP programme.”

However, Fianna Fáil criticised this move, with McConalogue arguing: “There is no reasonable basis why Minister Creed has decided to stop the convergence process during the transition period in advance of the next seven-year CAP programme being agreed.

The draft proposals published by the EU Commission requires all member states at a minimum to ensure all farmers reach 75% of the national average entitlement by 2026…draft regulations recently published by the Commission also include a provision which permits member states to continue their convergence programme during the transition period.

“However, the Government has decided against this and I think that’s wrong,” the Donegal TD added.

He argued that it was “entirely logical” that convergence continue during the transition years, adding that this was “now accepted at EU level”.

“Progress towards the reduction of maximum payments per entitlement should also continue during the transition period which require maximum entitlement values to be reduced, at a minimum, from €700 to €500 per hectare by 2026,” McConalogue continued.

Looking to the future, a decision will be required alongside agreement of the final budget for the next CAP programme on the final level of convergence to be achieved, but it is not acceptable for the Government to now bring a halt to the process towards the accepted minimum during the transition period.

Concluding, McConalogue confirmed that: “Fianna Fáil is fully committed, if in Government, to ensuring that the process will continue during the transition period.”