Farm Ireland

Monday 18 December 2017

EU bodies disagree on greening in CAP reform

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

The European Parliament and the European Commission are set on a collision course over the greening proposals included in the CAP reform package.

The Parliament has deep concerns that the greening measures are too limited and too detailed, Ireland East MEP Mairead McGuinness has said.

Speaking at the Teagasc Agri-Environment conference last Thursday, Ms McGuinness said the Parliament believed the new proposals were an attempt to micro-manage activities at farm level and would take away the freedom to farm.

The MEP said the Parliament was concerned that the three main measures proposed -- crop diversification, maintenance of permanent pasture and ecological focus areas on every farm -- seemed a limited approach.

"The proposals are seen as too prescriptive and too specific," she told the 200 delegates at the environmental conference in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

"I believe the list will have to expand but it will be difficult to achieve this as the European Commission see it as a very neat solution," Ms McGuinness said.

"There is huge disappointment in the greening proposals.

"The reaction across the majority of groups in Parliament, with the exception of a few, is negative."

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Ms McGuinness has been appointed as lead negotiator on reform of the EU direct payment regime on behalf of the European Parliament's biggest political grouping the European People's Party (EPP).

"The proposals will add hugely to the administration burden on states and add to farmer's burden of compliance," she added.

"There is already a huge fear of inspection among farmers. If we add more under cross compliance and greening, we are going to have more inspections."

The Parliament's distinct lack of enthusiasm for the proposals could have a serious implications for CAP reform, given that for the first time ever, the European Parliament has power of co-decision in agricultural policy.

Ms McGuinness warned that it would be difficult to reach a consensus on the proposals and she was doubtful if negotiations could be concluded by the time Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney takes over as head of the council of agriculture ministers in early 2013.

The MEP also warned that there had been no agreement on the CAP budget post-2014.

"If we did not have the European economic crisis that we have currently, we could hope that the CAP budget would be maintained, but we need to be cautious as there is no agreement on budget yet," she said.

Further reporting on Teagasc Agri-Environment conference on page 14

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