French and German backing for CAP budget

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Germany and France have come out against any cut in CAP funding in the upcoming EU budget negotiations.

The key European powers have called for the CAP funding to be frozen at 2013 levels for the period from 2014 to 2020. This would effectively be a 12pc cut in Europe's farm funding by 2020 when inflation is taken into account.

The move will be welcomed by the Irish Government, which has been lobbying to retain the overall financing of CAP in the face of calls from some member states for a significant reduction. It ensures considerable political support for the Irish position, given that Germany is the EU's primary paymaster and France is the main beneficiary of CAP.

The Franco-German statement followed a meeting last week in Berlin between French agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll and Germany's farm minister Ilse Aigner.

Both countries rejected any further reduction to Pillar I allocations but agreed to support "reasonable and progressive" redistribution of farm subsidies between member states.

However, they insisted that the total allocation for each country, including Pillar II, had to be taken into consideration when deciding on the extent of the redistribution between member states.

Negotiations on the new EU budget for the period from 2014 to 2020 are scheduled to take place at a special meeting of heads of state on November 22-23.

This summit is expected to deal with a number of CAP issues, including the overall farm budget and the national envelope for each member state.

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Calls for the maintenance of CAP funding at current levels will set France and Germany on a collision course with Britain, Holland and Sweden, who have sought a reduction in the overall agriculture spend as part of a reduced EU budget.

The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, said he would continue to fight for at least a freezing of the CAP budget.

He said the €1.6bn Ireland received in CAP payments represented 85pc of all EU monetary transfers to the country.

On the ongoing CAP negotiations, Mr Coveney said he was continuing to meet his counterparts across Europe to set out Ireland's reservations regarding the reforms put forward by EU Agriculture Commissioner, Dacian Ciolos.

He said he had gained considerable support for Ireland's position and the Commission could not ignore Ireland's concerns or the alternatives that he had put forward.

Meanwhile, ICMSA president John Comer has welcomed the French-German calls for no further cuts in the CAP budget.

He said a co-ordinated effort by all Government ministers was required between now and the end of the year to ensure that the existing CAP budget allocation to Ireland was maintained.

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