Taoiseach ‘must hold firm’ as EU budget talks continue – IFA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is being called on to “hold firm” during ongoing talks in Brussels on the EU’s budget for 2021 to 2027.

Tim Cullinan, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), is in Brussels at the moment, as the European Council President Charles Michel and EU member states’s heads of government continue to hold talks on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

At present, it looks like these talks will continue into tomorrow, Saturday, February 22.

The Taoiseach is right to reject the current proposals as they would be very damaging for Irish farmers and the rural economy.

“We want him to maintain this stance and build alliances with member states that are in favour of a CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] budget that safeguards the incomes of farm families,” said Cullinan.

The IFA president claimed: “There is a clear attempt being made by Charles Michel to wear down opposition to the current proposals.”

He reiterated the IFA’s call for an increased CAP budget to “at least take account of inflation and any additional asks being places on farmers”.

The viability and sustainability of thousands of family farms will be threatened if these proposals, or anything like them, are adopted by member states.

The Taoiseach had said earlier that the proposal on the table is “not something we can accept”, due primarily to the proposed cuts to the CAP.

“Essentially, it means that Ireland will contribute much more to the EU budget, but will actually receive less back, in terms of payments to Irish farmers, and also funds for regional development and social development,” he said.

“We accept that as a country that has a growing economy, as a country with full employment, we will have to pay more into the European budget over the next seven years. What we can’t accept is that in return for paying more, that we would see very significant cuts to CAP and to cohesion funds,” the Taoiseach added.