Greens pushing for total review of CAP reform plan

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Sarah Collins

A new group of Green MEPs could push for a total review of the CAP 2020 reform proposals.

The European Commission has proposed a cap on subsidies, a redistribution of aid from big to smaller farms and a requirement to report back to Brussels more often on how EU money is being spent.

MEPs on the powerful Agriculture Committee voted through a raft of amendments to the proposed CAP measures which the new EU parliament has to decide to accept or reject. But concerns are growing in Brussels that a raft of new green-leaning MEPs will want to scrap that work and start from scratch.

"There are a lot of reasons for farmers to be concerned by the machinations here," Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy told the Farming Independent.

"It's possible that either the full Parliament or the agriculture committee will look at this in its entirety again."

Pekka Pesonen, head of the EU farmers' federation, Copa-Cogeca, is concerned that newly elected MEPs will want to create their own "landmark policy" that could upset farmers.

The jitters come after EU farm ministers last week chose to delay a CAP decision until talks on the EU's long-term budget (the multi-annual financial framework, or MFF) are wound up. The Commission proposed a 5pc reduction in the farming budget for 2021-27 but with Brexit day now extended to 31 October, there has been a knock-on effect on budget talks.

"The UK exit process will block the final adoption of the EU budget and we cannot imagine a vote on the future CAP without a proper budget," Mr Pesonen said.

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Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan told reporters last week that EU ministers are acting "tactically and strategically" in delaying a decision on CAP reform. "Time will tell whether that's the right strategy or not."

Meanwhile, the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed told last week's INHFA conference he agreed in principle with convergence and the capping of subsidies..

"That [convergence] journey should continue, that is the right thing to do, and I think the Commission has equally nailed it colours to the mast on that," Minister Creed said.

The minister described as "unacceptable" the proposed 5pc cut in the CAP budget.

"Ireland needs to work closely with our EU colleagues to build a consensus around the need to reverse the proposed cuts in CAP. I will continue to do this, and to fight for a strong CAP budget as the negotiations progress," Minister Creed said.

However, he conceded that there were "a lot of moving parts in relation to the CAP budget" and that reaching a consensus across the 27 member states will be challenging.

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