Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 3 December 2016

CAP reform start date in doubt

Published 15/02/2012 | 06:00

The continuing financial turmoil in Europe appears to have seriously delayed the CAP reform process.

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There has been very little progress in the reform process at EU level since Commissioner Dacian Ciolos launched his proposals last November.

As a consequence, the target date of January 1, 2014 for putting in place the new farm payment scheme looks extremely ambitious given the amount that has to be agreed.

In addition, there are considerations at national level, which will undoubtedly delay matters further.

The immediate hold-up is being attributed to the French presidential elections in May and assembly elections in June.

With none of the hard bargaining likely to take place before these elections, sources in Brussels admit that it will be autumn before any real progress can be made.

However, movement on a CAP deal will also be dependent on Europe finding a solution to the crisis within the euro. Signing off on an overall EU budget is also certain to be problematic. Already, there have been calls for tighter controls on public spending due to poor economic growth forecasts across the EU.

Indeed, it is difficult to see European leaders who are constantly preaching austerity at domestic level being all too generous when it comes to EU funding.

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This issue has already been flagged by the EU Parliament, which has indicated its unwillingness to commit to a final agreement until there is political deal on an EU budget.

Speaking at an agri seminar in Dungarvan last week, Ireland East MEP Mairead McGuinness highlighted the growing doubts around the 2014 start date and warned that implementation of reform in 2015 would be an issue.

Ms McGuinness called on the Commission to revisit the proposals and deliver an easy-to-administer scheme.

With the European Parliament now having enhanced powers, the views of MEPs will have to be taken on board. The problem is that each time the programme is revisited the less chance of the 2014 deadline being met.

It looks like Ireland will be facing a busy EU presidency in the first half of 2013.

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