Proposed CAP reform plans ‘could be scuppered’ by EU elections

It is “almost inevitable” that changes will be made to the proposed legislation on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020 if a new EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development is appointed next summer, a leading MEP has stated.

Speaking to AgriLand at the National Ploughing Championships, Sean Kelly – MEP for Ireland South – highlighted the potential of such a scenario if Phil Hogan, the current commissioner, fails to be re-elected following the next European elections in May 2019.

Although Kelly expressed that the current CAP proposals are “favourably agreed overall”, he cautioned that the details could change under a new commissionership.

I think it’s somewhat naive to suggest that the proposals put forward now by the commission are going to be the exact proposals and that the next commissioner is going to say ‘okay we’re going to introduce them’.

“I think they will have a year at least to put their mark on the next proposals and it’s almost inevitable that they will change a few things in it.”

However, Kelly pointed out that the framework established by Commissioner Hogan earlier this year was formulated as the result of extensive public consultation.

“A new commissioner couldn’t come in and say ‘I’m going to ignore the public consultation because I don’t agree with what the last commission did’.

“So yes, the detail I expect will be changed, hopefully for the better, especially after the farming organisations say to tweak things.

“But, possibly, Commissioner Hogan might be reappointed and if he got the same job then obviously it would be a smoother transition,” said Kelly.

Budget Battle

Kelly stated that the “big worry” continues to linger over whether all member states will agree to contributing additional monies to the CAP budget in light of the funding deficit set to be caused by the UK’s imminent departure from the EU.

It is understood that 22 of the remaining 26 member states have already committed to upping contributions in a bid to avoid a proposed 5% cut to the CAP budget post-2020.

However, agreement must be unanimous across the EU bloc in order to progress with such intentions.

“While many member states have said they are willing to fill the gap of €12-14 billion left by the UK leaving, there are four or five countries that have said ‘no’. That battle is ongoing.

“Already there is a 5% proposed reduction that nobody wants. It started off as a proposal for 30% by European Commissioner for Budget Gunther Oettinger; but, if we can get the budget contributions from each member state up a small bit, then there might be no reduction at all – that’s what we are hoping for at the minute,” Kelly concluded.