‘Tough timeline’ could delay CAP reform

The “tough timeline” relating to the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020 could see the current policy “rolling over”, the assistant secretary general of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Brendan Gleeson, has admitted.

Gleeson was part of a delegation from the department which appeared before the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine yesterday evening (Tuesday, June 26) to discuss EU legislative proposals.

During the meeting, he gave an outline of the projected timeline of events that need to occur for the reform of the CAP to become a reality.

Quoting a tentative outlook published by the commission, Gleeson explained that both the European Parliament and the European Council – the co-legislators – will debate the CAP proposals sometime towards the end of this year.

Following this, the commission has outlined that there could be a potential agreement on the next multi-annual financial framework (MFF) by heads of states and governments in spring 2019.

CAP
Assistant secretary general of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Brendan Gleeson

It is also hoped that the co-legislators will have adopted the next CAP in spring 2019. Gleeson then stated that European Parliament elections will take place in May of next year.

The intention is for the new CAP to enter into force in 2021, according to the projected timeline.

Challenges

Commenting on the timeline, Gleeson said: “What that means in practice, I think, is that officials will be working through the detail of this over the next month. The council then will come to a general agreement on the shape of it.

“If that’s to go through parliament before spring 2019, the council probably needs to be agreeing on the general shape of it before the end of this year or very early in 2019.

Then it goes into the parliament; the last time round – and I was involved in the 2013 amendment to the CAP – there were certainly many thousands of amendments to the council proposals that came from the parliament; so it was a difficult process.

“If this is to happen in time for 2021, I think – realistically – we need agreement in the council and the parliament in spring of next year – before we get into that parliamentary election cycle. 

“It’s a tough timeline. I’m not going to comment on whether it is possible or not, but it’s difficult,” he added.

Potential roll-over

In the event where an agreement cannot be reached by the parliament and the council in time, the department’s assistant secretary general admitted that the policy could potentially roll-over.

But he warned that if a roll-over does occur, it would have to happen without the UK’s budgetary contribution.

Concluding, Gleeson said: “Then you would have multi-annual schemes like GLAS, for example; we would have to consider how long the next partial programme rolls on for. Would you just extend the contracts of people who are already in contracts or would you enter into a new cycle?

“So there would be a lot of complex decisions to be made; it would be a new thing to manage.”