Italy will say ‘No’ to butterfat re-adjustment for Ireland

EU Commission sources in Brussels have told Agriland that Ireland has lost its opportunity to secure a milk quota butterfat re-adjustment which, in turn, could expose the country to a possible a €60 million super levy penalty next spring.

“There was a full political discussion on this issue at the June Council meeting,” a Brussels-based analyst said and, while Simon Coveney did succeed in getting the Greek Presidency to revise the position paper that was presented on this matter, it was quite evident that Ireland would not have been able to secure a qualified majority, had the revised proposals been put to a vote.

“Italy assumes the Presidency of the EU on July 1. This means that an Italian presidential team will control the agenda and the compilation of the technical papers prepared for the next Agricultural Council meeting, which is planned for July 14.

“Italy has already confirmed that it is against any re-adjustment to the current butterfat criteria. As a consequence, they will either push for a vote on the matter in July or construe some way of pushing the matter further down the pipe. Either way Ireland will not get the changes it wants to the current butterfat regulations.”

When asked if a change of Minister for Agriculture in Dublin would make any difference in terms of Ireland securing a butterfat adjustment the view from Brussels is that it won’t. “This is not a personality-led issue,” the Brussels-bases source continued.

“This is all about politics. The reality is that Ireland will not get the qualified majority it needs to get the butterfat amendment over the line. Currently, there are 11 Member States that are totally against any proposals which would accede to the butterfat technical re-adjustment, which Ireland is seeking. And I cannot see this state of affairs changing.