Government must ‘protect CAP in post Covid-19 budget negotiations’ – Kelleher

The Irish Government must resist any attempt to reduce the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. This was the message from Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fáil MEP today, Sunday, April 5.

He explained: “What’s now clear is that all of the budget predictions for the EU are out of date. The impact of Covid-19 on the economies and balance sheets of every member state will result in an unwillingness to increase member state contributions to fund the 2021-2027 EU budget.

“Even before Covid-19 struck, the CAP budget was under attack with member states unwilling to increase their contributions to pay for the proposed MFF [Multiannual Financial Framework].

“Many of the union’s plans are now in a precarious position. While the economic impact of the crisis has yet to be counted up, it will be large. Debt will be added to each and every member state’s balance sheet, and many will be unwilling to give more to the EU to fund projects,” he stated.

Build alliances

He went on to say that core projects such as CAP, the Fisheries Plan, the European Green Deal and Cohesion Funds must be protected.

According to Kelleher, in many cases, they are “funding communities right across the union and, in the case of the Green Deal, will fund the transition away from damaging high-carbon activities”.

“Tough negotiations will ensue post Covid-19. I’d wager that, already, each member state government is actively looking at their numbers to see what they can contribute to the union budget,” he said.

The Irish Government must be resolute in demanding that CAP funding is maintained and not cut. It must build alliances with other like-minded countries now that the UK, our traditional ally in CAP negotiations, has left the union.

“This is too important a source of funding and income for rural Ireland to not dig our heels in and protect,” concluded Kelleher.