Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD has welcomed the inclusion of the French option of frontloading payments in the range of CAP reforms agreed by the EU Council of Ministers last night. It is disappointing, however, that the overall funding for CAP has been reduced for the first time in its history.
Deputy Ó Cuív also welcomed progress in relation to reaching a new agreement on CAP and said it now seems likely that a final decision on CAP will be made this year.
“Another hurdle in agreeing a new CAP agreement has been jumped and I would hope we can find a solution by the end of this year,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.
“It would appear from the discussions that all the main options still remain in place including the Commission’s flat rate payment option; the French frontloading option; and the Minister’s internal convergence option.
“The internal convergence model is the option that retains to the greatest degree the current status quo whereas the other two models would ensure much greater re-distribution of payments.
“It remains to be seen following negotiations between the European Parliament, the Commission and the Minister what the final agreement will include.
“I have always favoured maximum national flexibility so that each country can design a programme that suits its national circumstances.
“From statements made to date I am disappointed to note that the Council has not set a national cap on payments, I believe this is vital on equity grounds. The top 2,000 farmers get paid as much as the lowest 52,000 farmers in payments and this is unacceptable. The Minister has clearly failed to significantly tackle this issue which he was in unique position to do as President of the European Council of Ministers.
“I welcome the flexibility in relation to voluntary coupled supports and the option of increasing the funding in this regard. I have always argued that for coupled payments to be attractive there would have to be a significant amount of funding available to them.
“There are more challenges ahead as there will be new areas of natural constraint replacing the old disadvantaged areas and this could have both negative and positive implications for Ireland where at present 75% of land is considered as disadvantaged. This area could be significantly reduced under this proposal.
“Finally, I also welcome the flexibility in reference years and it is imperative that Ireland has the option of a reference year prior to 2013 to avoid chaos in the land market in Ireland.”