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Independent.ie

Monday 18 February 2019

CAP strategic plan facing thousands of amendments

Günther Oettinger
Günther Oettinger
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Up to 5,500 amendments to the CAP Strategic Plan have been tabled by the European Parliament.

It is understood that the amendments have now been grouped so that progress can be made on the issues raised.

A major push is being made by the Commission and the European People's Party (EPP) - which includes Fine Gael - to have the amendments debated by the parliament's powerful Agriculture Committee and the full assembly.

This must be done before the European elections and the new parliament meets.

The environmental element of the new CAP proposals, convergence in payments, and the capping of payments are among the issues which have prompted many of the amendments. Although there has been a strong push for 100pc convergence in payment rates over the term of the new CAP, sources in the parliament suggest that 75pc convergence is more likely by 2026.

Proposals to cap payments to individual farm entities at €60,000 has been labelled meaningless by activists following confirmation that applicants will be able to offset labour costs against the restriction.

It is still unclear if dedicated farm environment packages - similar to GLAS or the former REPS - will be available in the reformed CAP or whether this requirement will be covered by 'green' measures that are mandatory for all farmers.

Much of this detail is dependent on discussions around the overall CAP budget. It had been suggested that the annual budget could be cut by around 5pc or €17bn but this has been opposed by the European Parliament.

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However, Günther Oettinger, the EU Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, has demanded cuts in farm spending, pointing to the €12bn hole in the EU's finances that the UK leaving will create, as well as the increased requirement for funding in other areas such as a common borders policy in light of challenges posed by mass immigration from Africa and the Middle East.

In December, EU leaders put off dealing with the Budget issue until this autumn. The Multiannual Financial Framework, or MFF, runs for seven years and will need to be in place in time to replace the current budget programme, which ends at the end of 2020.

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