‘If the cake is smaller, nobody will be happy’ – Creed on CAP

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, recently reiterated his strong stance that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget must be maintained.

Minister Creed was a guest speaker at the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association’s (INHFA’s) annual general meeting (AGM) in the Sligo Southern Hotel late last week.

As it stands, it has been proposed to cut the overall CAP budget by 5%.

Prior to the CAP legislative proposals being announced, Minister Creed met his French, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese and Finnish counterparts on Thursday, May 31; it was at this meeting that a commitment to protect the CAP was signed.

Minister Creed told those present at the AGM that the initiative of six ministers has now grown to 15. He also acknowledged that other member states have other pressing issues to consider.

But the minister argued that “raiding the CAP purse” to fund the response to these issues is not the way forward.

‘We are prepared to pay more’

The minister has been calling for other member states to increase their contributions to the EU budget to eradicate the need for a cut in the CAP budget.

We are, since 2014, a net contributor to Europe. In other words, we pay in more than we get out of it.

“So this isn’t Ireland with the begging bowl; we are a net contributor to Europe and indeed a high per capita net contributor. We are saying clearly, as a Government, that we are prepared to pay more.

“What we must bear in mind is that there are other member states, even in the context of the published CAP proposals, that are saying that the cuts didn’t go far enough – they are also saying that they are not prepared to pay more.

“Unfortunately, Europe operates on the basis that it can only spend what it has been given by the member states; it can’t run a deficit and it can’t borrow money,” he said.

‘Win other member states over’

Speaking to AgriLand, Minister Creed highlighted that his energies are currently focused on ensuring that an adequate budget is made available to fund the CAP.

Commenting on the publication of the legislative proposals, he said: “We can talk about all of the issues, whether it’s generational renewal, climate change, front loading or flat rate – they are all part of the debate that we will have to have.

But if the cake is smaller, nobody will be happy.

The minister conceded that some member states are facing challenges which are not as significant in Ireland.

Concluding, he said: “You have to accept that these are sovereign states; they don’t owe us.

“They have other issues. I would like to think that collectively we can acknowledge that all of these issues need to be addressed and, to do so, it shouldn’t be on the basis that we raid what has been a very successful policy.

“I acknowledge that security and migration need to be addressed, but I think to do so we need to contribute more. We are prepared to do that and I hope, by force of argument, that we can win other member states over.”