Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

Farmers set to lose €4.5m in CAP reform

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Ireland will lose almost €4.5m from its national envelope under the proposed CAP reform document compiled by European Parliament rapporteur Luis Capoulas Santos Santos.

The draft report from the Portuguese MEP, leaked last week, was seen as accommodating demands from the Baltic member states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia by increasing their national envelopes at the expense of countries with higher payments, such as Ireland.

However, there is growing concern that the Baltic states are still extremely dissatisfied with their lot and will press for further movement of funds from west to east.

This could further reduce Ireland's national envelope in the coming months.

Nonetheless, Mr Santos' report also contained some elements in Ireland's favour, including the admission that moving to a flat rate per hectare payment by 2019 was neither practical nor desirable.

He proposed that national or regional payments could differ by up to 20pc and that any reduction to a farmer's payment between 2014 and 2019 be limited to 30pc.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of amendments are set to be made to the draft document before the European Parliament will vote on the report this autumn.

While Ireland East MEP Mairead McGuinness welcomed Mr Santos' recognition that moving to a flat rate per hectare payment by 2019 would be too difficult, she warned that there was still a lengthy process of negotiation to go through before the final shape on the CAP direct payment regime emerges.

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She said one of the big issues of concern in relation to the changes due in 2014 was the overall budget for the CAP.

"There is a real risk of a cut to the EU budget and a corresponding cut to the agriculture budget," she said.

She added that austerity measures throughout Europe were affecting the willingness of individual governments to contribute to the CAP, saying that it would be "almost a badge of honour for minister to be able to return home from Brussels saying that they had cut their contribution to Europe".

The MEP predicted that if the overall CAP budget were cut, the Baltic countries could change tactic and pursue an increase in funding through Europe's cohesion policy.

She added that the 30pc of CAP funding earmarked for greening could be reduced to a smaller proportion of the total.

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