Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 11 December 2016

Danes putting regionalisation back on agenda

Declan O'Brien

Published 29/02/2012 | 06:00

The latest talk from Brussels regarding CAP reform is that the Danes are having a serious look at the possibility of pushing regionalisation as a means of offsetting losses to their commercial farmers.

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With the Danes holding the presidency at EU level at the moment, it appears that their focus has been on weeding out what they believe are red herrings in the reform package to produce an edited version of the proposals. This could then form the basis for discussions between member states after the summer break.

However, one of the ideas they're having a serious look at is the regionalisation of payments. This idea has been gaining momentum since Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos indicated during his visit to Ireland in November that any regions within member states need not be traditional geographic entities.

Commentators in Europe say that Denmark sees this proposal as a way to protect the single farm payments (SFP) of its farmers.

The level of debt on Danish dairy farms is among the highest in Europe, and the SFP is factored into their repayment capacity. Therefore, any CAP reform agreement which would significantly undermine SFP payments could do real damage at farm level.

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The average SFP payment in Denmark, which at the moment is €363/ha -- compared to the EU average of €266/ha -- will drop to €343/ha after the reforms.

Denmark currently has a hybrid system for direct support at present, with an historical element and an area-based element, but there is a gradual shift every year away from the historical payment.

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However, there are clearly fears that the reform proposals could lead to a more serious cut in the SFP than has been envisaged to date.

Rumours in Brussels suggest that the Danes are looking at the possibility of dividing the country into more than 50 regions to protect payments.

Such a move will cause great unease with Irish officials. It is understood that the Department of Agriculture has carried out studies to measure how the various proposals would impact Ireland and are finding that few to date offer any real benefits.

The great fear from the regionalisation proposal from an Irish perspective is the political fallout that would flow from such an initiative.

The talk is that the regions could be as small as district electoral divisions (DEDs). However, the fact of the matter for Ireland is that -- as has been pointed out before -- there could be as many regions as parishes in the country and deciding who goes where and who gets what could be very messy.

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