Alan Matthews: CAP reform negotiations bogged down in uncertainty
A transition period may be needed for current CAP as officials struggle to hammer out a new deal
All attention last week was focused on the Brexit agenda, and rightly so, for there is much at stake, both for Ireland and the EU.
But for the Irish agri-food sector, decisions taken on the shape of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy after 2020 can be just as important.
We should thus not lose sight of the way the debate is going in Brussels on the next CAP. Discussions last week on the CAP reform file in the two co-legislatures, the AGRIFISH Council and the AGRI Committee in the European Parliament, gave some insights into the current state of play. At this stage, both institutions are quite far from reaching agreement on their own positions, a necessary step before they can enter trilogue negotiations to agree the final Regulations.
In the Parliament’s AGRI Committee around 8,000 amendments were suggested to the three CAP Regulations. These are the Strategic Plan regulation which introduces the new delivery model for the CAP and a new performance framework whereby the Commission can hold Member States to account; a Horizontal Regulation setting down the rules for financing, management and monitoring of the CAP; and an amending regulation to the Common Market Organisation (CMO) regulation on the management of agricultural markets.
The rapporteurs responsible for drafting the Committee’s opinion and the shadow rapporteurs from the different political groupings in the Parliament have been working to reduce these amendments to a smaller number of compromise amendments, but this work was not completed as of the beginning of last week.
Nonetheless, the Committee plans to hold votes on these compromise amendments in the first two weeks of April. But this will not allow enough time for the Parliament in plenary session to hold a vote on the Committee’s opinion before elections take place to the European Parliament in May.
It will be up to the newly-elected Parliament to take up the file and to negotiate the outcome with the AGRIFISH Council.