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Monday 22 September 2014

Kenny backs French objections over CAP

Fionnan Sheahan Brussels

Published 23/11/2012 | 05:00

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Farmers hold a sit-in protest at Dublin's EU offices over proposed CAP reform. Finbarr O'Rourke

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny is piggy-backing on France's objections to proposals to dramatically cut the EU's funding for farmers.

Mr Kenny's primary aim at a lengthy EU summit is to come away without further cuts to Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as part of the €1 trillion EU budget.

EU leaders are gathering for a so-called 'three-shirt summit' as the contentious debate on the EU budget for the next seven years may drag into tomorrow.

But leaders are deeply divided over the budget, with the prospect of no agreement emerging and several countries threatening a veto. The current proposal on the table is to reduce the CAP by €25bn – which would cost Irish farmers and the agri-food sector an estimated €1bn over the next seven years.

Mr Kenny has a powerful ally in French President Francois Hollande, who also wants to protect the CAP. But France is no longer in as strong a position as it was at previous European summits.

The Taoiseach spoke with Mr Hollande on the phone ahead of the summit and supported his view there could be no more cuts to CAP than what is already being proposed by the European Commission.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said he disagreed with the argument that the EU had to cut its budget in line with member states as the union was now being asked to do more by those very countries.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is leading the charge to make deeper cuts to the EU budget – and is the most prominent leader to threaten a veto.

Also yesterday, the Taoiseach admitted there will be no bank debt deal struck until sometime next year.

Mr Kenny was speaking at the influential Brussels-based German thinktank, the Konrad Adeneuer Stiftung, on the priorities for Ireland's EU Presidency, but was asked about the status of the bank debt deal.

"The position on this is there will not be a decision on this before the next Council meeting (EU summit) or before the end of the year," he said.

"We would hope, during the course of 2013, our Minister for Finance would progress that understanding and decision," he added.

Mr Kenny says "stability, growth and jobs" will be the slogan for Ireland's Presidency of the EU. The Taoiseach said the country's six-month term will be will "play its full part" in a recovering European Union.

Irish Independent

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