Baltic states demand full convergence of farm payments at EU meeting
The Minister’s for Agriculture of Latvia, Lituania, Poland and Estonia called for full convergence of payments to farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
In a joint declaration, the four nations called for fairness and equality between Member States and urged the EU to complete the process of full convergence of direct payments between Member States.
They also underlined that all EU farmers have to meet the same standards and requirements and face the same challenges.
On this issue Assistant secretary of the Department of Agriculture Brendan Gleeson, told TDs in the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee that it was difficult to access how much Irish farmers would be hit in a full convergence secneario.
“We looked at a proposal for external convergence of payments per hectare across member states before and we are absolutely certain we have nothing to gain from it.
“Would we lose from it? We would have to see specific proposals to determine whether we would lose from it or not.
“The last proposal from the then Commissioner, Dacian Ciolos, was to move everyone to the average payment per hectare across Europe.
“When we looked at the specifics at the time, our payments per hectare were more or less bang on the average.
“At that time, we would not have been significant losers from external convergence.
“As for now, we would definitely not gain from external convergence. At the same time, we cannot take it for granted that we would lose from it.
“We would need to examine the proposal at the time, look specifically at our payments per hectare, compare them to the European average and assess the proposal,” he said.
It comes as EU Agriculture Ministers adopted Presidency conclusions, supported by 23 Member States including Ireland, on the European Commission’s Communication on “The Future of Food and Farming”.
Speaking in Brussels, Minister for State at the Department of Agriculture Andrew Doyle said “The Presidency has made a real effort to accommodate the concerns of Member States.
"I recognise that the new CAP must deliver greater added value, including by making the policy greener and more results driven. Of course we will need a strong budget to deliver on these objectives”.
The conclusions come against the backdrop of discussions held by EU Agriculture Ministers at January and February Council.
In acknowledging the need for simplification, particularly in relation to the proposed new CAP Strategic Plans, Minister Doyle urged his colleagues to work hard together to ensure the new model delivers real simplification for farmers and administrators and that we learn lessons from the past.
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