Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Ireland defends EU agriculture budget as farm subsidies face chop

Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Tony Gavin
Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Tony Gavin
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Minister Michael Creed emphasised the importance of a strong and well financed Common Agricultural policy (CAP) not only for European agriculture, but also for employment creation and economic development, particularly in rural areas.

Speaking after today’s Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Minister Creed was responding to discussion on a Commission report on the result of an EU wide public consultation on the future of the CAP, and referred also to a recent reflection paper from the EU Budget Commissioner on the EU Budget.

Farm subsidies face being chopped as Brexit hammers the EU coffers, with the Government being asked to find extra funds to make up the shortfall.

Referring to today’s discussions, the Minister said "it is more important than ever, against the background of Brexit, and in the context of global food security issues, that we have a strong, well financed CAP post 2020".

"Of course the policy has to deliver value for money for EU citizens. I am confident that the CAP can meet the test of value added, in terms of food security, employment creation and environmental sustainability.

"It underpins the production of safe high quality food for 500 million people who live in the EU, provides vital support for farm incomes and sustains the rural economies across the EU.

"From an Irish perspective, CAP supports 173,400 jobs in the Agri Food sector, accounts for approximately 7.6% of GDP and provides a platform for the development of Ireland’s largest indigenous sector, with €26 billion in turnover.”

The Minister said that it was essential that the CAP was not viewed as an “old policy” and rather as a modern and innovative policy that can deliver for all EU citizens.

Also Read

Spending cuts

It comes as Budget commissioner Günther Oettinger recently warned that spending cuts are coming across the board to deal with the Brexit black hole.

This will include reductions to the common agricultural policy (CAP), which eats up 40pc of the bloc's budget.

He said the EU also needed to "shift expenditure" away from traditional policies to pay for migration and defence, and that governments needed to consider paying in "fresh money" if they wanted the EU to stay relevant.

Among the options are less generous payments to farmers or a tax on financial transactions. Applying common energy or environmental taxes to imports were also considered in a paper on reforming the EU budget.

"We believe that cuts - if we compare to the current approach - are going to be necessary over the next decade," Mr Oettinger said. "But it is clear that with cuts alone, it is not going to be possible to plug the Brexit gap."

While Mr Oettinger said he was not in favour of "sweeping cuts" to the CAP, regional policy chief Corina Cretu said governments would have to consider topping up direct payments to farmers.

"We put all the ideas on the table," Ms Cretu told reporters in Brussels.

"National co-financing could be considered an option for direct payments, and it will be discussed."

She said farmers don't mind whether CAP money comes from Brussels or national coffers: "I am sure farmers will be very glad to receive the money, and that will happen - they don't care if it's 95pc from European Union and 5pc from member states."

Online Editors

More in EU