What are Commissioner Hogan’s plans for the remainder of his tenure?

Phil Hogan took up the mantle as European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development in November 2014.

So far, the Kilkenny-native has overseen and proposed a number of changes to farming policy in Europe, one such change being the introduction of the Voluntary Milk Reduction Scheme.

This scheme proved to be particularly popular in Ireland, with almost one-in-four Irish farmers opting to reduce their milk output under the scheme.

Another major change on the cards for European Union farming policy is the simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

To achieve this simplification, Commissioner Hogan plans to ‘limit the bottle necks’ farmers and administrators face under the current legislation through the Omnibus Regulation.

But what is next on the agenda for the former Minister for the Environment?

Opening new export markets for EU produce

It is understood that one of Commissioner Hogan’s chief aims is to increase the number of export markets currently available to EU producers.

The EU market is still recovering for the Russian embargo on imports and the slow down in Chinese demand, but Commissioner Hogan has identified exports as a key area of improvement.

Already this year, the Commissioner has lead a number of trade missions to potential export markets, including China, Japan and Colombia to name just three.

Rumor in Brussels also suggests that the Commissioner is expected to make a trip to Singapore later this year to promote EU produce.

Pushing through key legislation

Another area that Commissioner Hogan is expected to work on is pushing through legislation on climate change, particularly the Paris agreement, under which Ireland has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.

Furthermore, working on implementing the Nairobi Agreement is also understood to be one of Commissioner Hogan’s key priorities in office.

This agreement will see major changes in the way developing countries are treated in the world market.

It commits to eradicating subsidies for farm exports, while also providing a safeguard for developing countries when selling into the world market.

Committed to young farmers

The Kilkenny man’s stance on young farmers is widely known and it is expected that he will continue to push to encourage more young people to enter the agricultural and food sector in Europe.

One of the key stumbling blocks the Commissioner sees to inter-generational change is access to credit and under the Omnibus regulation, he has cited access to finance as being of major importance to young farmers.

Under the proposed policy change, he is looking to introduce simpler rules to allow farmers to access loans or other financial instruments.

This change would make it easier for farmers, and young farmers in particular, to access credit and this move is seen by the Commission as a method of keeping more young people on the ground as a means of protecting rural communities throughout Europe.