MEP Mairéad McGuinness has told Agriland that the discussions held earlier this week, involving members of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee and Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, have proven extremely worthwhile.

“We managed to secure a number of agreements from the Commissioner which should ensure that the Parliament votes through the texts of the delegated CAP Reform Acts,” she added. “This week’s discussions were important as they, once again, confirmed the important role which the Parliament is playing in the context of the current CAP Reform process.”

Northern Ireland MEP Jim Nicholson agreed: “Prior to this week’s meetings with Commissioner Ciolos many members of the Agriculture Committee had been extremely concerned about a number of the detailed implementation proposals contained within the drafts of the delegated acts. However, I can confirm that the Commissioner has now agreed to reconsider a number of crucial points prior to the plenary vote in the Parliament. In the first instance he has agreed to carry out a review of the new CAP measures after 12 months, if it turns out that they have served to reduced farming output in the EU. If necessary, this action will be sanctioned before the mid-term review o the CAP, currently timetabled for 2017.

“Significantly, Commissioner Ciolos has agreed that farm partnerships will be accepted as part of the eligibility criteria for the young farmer support measures. And, as I understand it, both existing and new partnerships will be accepted in this regard. This will be a tremendously positively development for agriculture in Northern Ireland. The Commissioner has also agreed to review a number of the criteria associated with the introduction of Ecological Focus Areas. This latter point is of specific interest to MEPs with constituencies across mainland Europe’s intensive grain growing areas. We have also received assurances that all these amendments will be upheld by the next Farm Commissioner, given that Dacian Ciolos will have moved on once we get into the implementation phase of the new CAP measures.”