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Saturday 21 April 2018

Fianna Fail warns of EU chiefs plan to halve CAP budget

The CAP accounts for 40pc of the EU’s annual spending.

Stock photo
Stock photo

Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has called on the Government to defend the EU CAP budget from newly proposed cutbacks.

The President of the European Parliament and member of the same European grouping as Fine Gael, Antonio Tajani, has proposed a reduction in the CAP budget to divert resources elsewhere as part of EU budgetary reform.

Reports suggest Tajani's cuts would effectively halve the current CAP budget which many Irish farmers are dependent on. Made public last week by Politico, the plans are also understood to have been heavily critisisted by Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness.

Some 122,000 family farms across the country are reliant on the Basic Payment Scheme and Deputy McConalogue commented that “CAP is the cornerstone of a safe, reliable food source for some 51 million people across Europe.

"In Ireland it forms a crucial part of our largest indigenous industry and helps to sustain the family farm unit as a custodian of the countryside. The CAP budget has always been a central part of the EU.

"It is already under pressure from Brexit which could potentially lead to a €3bn reduction in the overall CAP budget, which is worth €54bn," he said.

McConalogue also claimed some European politicians are now trying to use Brexit as a pretext for a broader reduction in CAP resources.

"This latest salvo from a prominent Fine Gael ally in the EU Parliament is a worrying development. The Government needs to defend the CAP budget in any review of the multi-annual financial frame, the EU’s overall budget.

 “The latest Teagasc figures reveal how vitally important CAP payments are for sustaining farm enterprises and the rural economy. 75% of farm income currently comes from direct payments. This underlines the need for the Government to fight Ireland’s corner in any revisions to the EU budget.

“There is an obligation on Fine Gael to address the position on their EPP ally Mr.Tajaini’s proposals. Fianna Fáil has called for a new €60,000 cap on payments under the Basic Payment Scheme to help support ordinary farmers. For CAP to succeed it needs real resources and now it is crucial that the Government works to ensure that the programme continues to get its fair share," he warned.

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