Two-year delay to CAP could be on the cards, warns Department

Declan O’Brien

A two-year delay in the introduction of the next CAP programme has not been ruled out by the Department of Agriculture.

Informed sources have indicated that the new CAP regime may not be agreed and finalised by 2022, and a Department spokesperson accepted that the start date for the next programme was “not certain”.

“Until the Brussels negotiations are concluded it is not possible to give a potential start date for the new CAP,” the Department stated.

Under the original Commission proposals Member States were to lodge CAP Strategic Plans for approval by January 1, 2020. These were then to be approved within eight months, with expenditure under the new plans starting in 2021. 

However, this schedule has been totally disrupted by Brexit and its consequent impact on the overall EU budget or the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

It is envisaged that the MFF could be finalised by Christmas, but this process had been complicated by Brexit and the loss of around €10bn that the UK contributes to the EU annually.

Asked if the new CAP programme would be implemented by 2022 or 2023, the Department repeated that the start date was “not certain”.

IFA president, Joe Healy, insisted that transitional budgetary arrangements must be put in place to protect the €650m paid to farmers each year under schemes such as GLAS, TAMS, BDGP and ANC in the event that the new CAP regime is delayed.

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The timeframe for schemes such as GLAS, TAMS and BDGP expires when the current CAP regime ends in 2020. However, Mr Healy said transitional funding will have to be made available to ensure farmers do not lose access to these programmes, or to the Pillar 1 direct payments.

“In any roll-over situation it is essential the budget is in place to avoid any linear cuts to direct payments, and to fully facilitate a seamless transition for farm schemes under Pillar II such as GLAS, TAMS, BDGP and ANC,” Mr Healy said.

“Direct payments and farm schemes must be fully protected,” he added.

The current draft regulations contain provisions for the Commission to adopt delegated acts regarding transitional measures. However, while the Commission have mentioned the need for a transitional period, the Department conceded that no arrangements have been proposed to date. 

“In the last programming period, the Commission adopted transitional regulations for a period of 12 months. We have raised the importance of having transitional arrangements in place for the CAP, including the Rural Development Programme, with the Commission at various working groups and the Minister has also raised the matter with the Commissioner,” the Department stated.

The proposals for the new CAP reform were presented on 1 June 2018. The next stages of the process are for the European Parliament and the European Council to form their respective views on the proposals. 

Negotiations are ongoing at EU Council level on the new CAP regime, but the European Parliament has yet to take a position on the proposals in a plenary vote.  

All parties will then negotiate an agreed final position through a process of trilogue discussions.

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