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Saturday 21 July 2018

It could be 2023 before CAP is reformed

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The prospect of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) being pushed out by several years was highlighted at a meeting of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee this evening.

Assistant Secretary at the Department of Agriculture Brendan Gleeson described the possibility of the CAP being significantly reformed by 2020 as being ‘very difficult’ and indicated that it might be pushed out to as late as 2023.

Gleeson highlighted that the Brexit negotiations, European elections and the expiry of the term of the current Commission are critical points reinforcing his view.

“Its possible to come up with a set of broad principals before you know what the budget is going to be but it is difficult to get into specific legislative proposals until you have some site of what is proposed in other areas.

“All of that will depend on at least a partial outcome of the Brexit proposals and certainly at least the outcome of the exit negotiations where the future financial dispensation will be decided”.

Budget

Also at the meeting, Gleeson highlighted the key threats to the current CAP budget.

He noted that the first and most oblivious threat was Brexit. “We don’t know what the financial arrangements will be when the UK leaves the EU.

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“We do know that they are one of the largest net contributors to the budget at  €10 billion.”

He also said that the EU now has other new priorities.

“There are big new political priorities in some Member States including migration and security. We know people will be looking for funding for that,” he said.

Gleeson also highlighted that Eastern bloc countries would be looking for a more significant share of the budget.

“We looked at external convergence before and what we are absolutely certain of is that we have nothing to gain from that.

“The question arises would we lose from it. We would have to see specific proposals to determine that.

“The last time around when we looked at this and the proposal was to move all farmers to an average payment per hectare across the EU. As it happened when we looked at the specifics at the time our payments were more or less bang on EU average.

“So at that time we wouldn’t have been significant losers. We cant take it for granted that we would lose from it,” he said.

However, Gleeson stressed that Ireland hasn't accepted in any kind of a formal way that there will be a reduction in the CAP budget.

“We are not at the point where we are going to accept that,” he told committee members.

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