Ireland building alliances with 'older' Member States to protect CAP budget

1,000 farms a day are being lost in the European Union. Photo: Reuters
1,000 farms a day are being lost in the European Union. Photo: Reuters
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Ireland is building alliances with older Member States to protect the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget in the face of possible cuts due to Brexit and other priorities.

With Brexit set to blow a €14bn annual hole in the EU budget, the European Commission is pressing governments to stump up more or allow the bloc to raise new taxes, including on corporate profits.

Farm bodies reacted with concern to a commission document that outlined a number of options for the new seven-year budget post-2020.

It includes cutting by up to 30pc the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding which provides vital payments to farmers.

Speaking in the Dail this week, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed signalled an alliance with older EU Member States to protect the budget.

Be said Budget Commissioner Oettinger's commentary on CAP and the beady eyes of other Commissioners around the table looking at the other challenges the EU faces are a cause of concern.

“However, the Government would say Europe faces other challenges and security and migration come to mind.

“They could well learn from our experience that common problems could well do with a common approach.

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“However, that is not a reason to cut the budget of the Common Agricultural Policy which has been spectacularly successful. The public consultation showed there is continuing public support for a

“Common Agricultural Policy provided we embrace the bigger challenges now around sustainability. We are working hard with member states for that reason.

“France has always been an ally in CAP negotiations and recent soundings from President Macron are a bit more reassuring in respect of France's commitment to an adequately funded CAP.

“Recent soundings coming from the Germans have also been positive,” he said.

Minister Creed said Ireland will work closely with “what might be described loosely as the older member states of the European Union in the context of these matters and will continue to work closely with them to ensure that is resolved satisfactorily”.

Minister Creed said there are a lot of moving parts in this and the Government  are certainly vigilant in the area of ensuring there is an adequate budget.

“The direction of travel is interesting. If we go back to the Treaty of Rome and the early 1970s, the level of the budget for the Common Agricultural Policy was in the region of 70pc and above. It is down now to under 40pc,” he said.

He said the most critical objective Ireland  have to meet is sustainability.

“I refer to not just environmental sustainability but to social and economic sustainability for the agriculture sector. An adequate budget is critical for that.

“We are committed to making sure that before we start talking about all the things we would like to do, that we are sure we have the money in the bag to do it,” he said.

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