Omens are not good for the CAP budget
This is a critical week for the Irish farm sector. The Commission's proposals on the overall EU budget for the period to 2020 are due to be announced in Brussels tomorrow evening. This will effectively set the parameters for EU farm spending up to the end of the decade.
While developments in Greece will certainly take centre stage and hog most of the news coverage, tomorrow's announcement will be hugely important for Irish farmers.
The omens are not good. Both the total EU budget and CAP's share of the overall spend are under pressure.
The French, British and German leaders -- Nicolas Sarkozy, David Cameron and Angela Merkel -- have called for a freeze in the overall EU budget.
In addition, Commission president Manuel Barroso has indicated he wants to shift the emphasis of the EU budget away from agriculture and structural funds.
The total EU budget currently comes to around €140bn, with CAP accounting for close to 40pc of this spend -- or roughly €56bn.
Given the ongoing financial crisis within the EU -- and the poor growth prospects for the immediate future -- securing the same level of funding for farming is going to be a real challenge.
As one Brussels source put it: "You wouldn't have to be a rocket scientist to realise that there is enormous pressure on the CAP budget."