Farm Ireland

Monday 11 December 2017

Pillar II will not be cut, says Ciolos

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Suggestions that the rural development element of CAP could be slashed as part of a review of the overall EU budget have been rejected by Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos.

Rumours circulating in Brussels last week indicated that Commission president Manuel Barroso wanted to cut rural development funding in Pillar II of CAP as part of the overall EU budget negotiations.

However, Commissioner Ciolos told a plenary session of the European parliament last week that he put "great store" in Pillar II of the CAP.

A lot of ambition will be placed on the second pillar of CAP and it "will not pay the price in the next budgetary perspectives", Mr Ciolos told MEPs.

The rural development element of CAP is worth €490m in EU transfers to Ireland. However, there is a view that it may not be as vigorosly defended by member states since these transfers must be co-funded at national level to be drawn down.

The Commission is to publish its EU budgetary proposals for the period 2014 to 2020 tomorrow evening.

The French, British and Germans have called for a freeze in the overall EU budget.

In addition, Commission president Manuel Barroso has indicated he wants to shift the emphasis of the EU budget away from agriculture and structural funds towards innovation and research.

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The total EU budget currently comes to around €140bn, with CAP accounting for close to 40pc of this spend or roughly €56bn. Agriculture will be under pressure in holding its current share of the EU, Brussels-based officials have indicated.

"All kinds of battles are going on at Commission level and it is blindingly obvious that the agriculture budget is under enormous pressure," a Brussels source said.

Meanwhile, last week's vote by the European Parliament on the report by Albert Dess on the post-2013 CAP has been welcomed by farm organisations.

The European farmer group Copa-Cogeca welcomed the vote and claimed that it sent a clear message that the CAP budget should be maintained.

"I urge the EU Commission to take note of this when drawing up their budget proposals," Copa-Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen said.

"With the combined challenges of climate change and rising food demand, we cannot continue on the same old path of yet further greening of the CAP which raises farm costs and reduces productivity," Mr Pesonen said.

"We need a new approach with win-win solutions which lead to green growth in line with the EU's own objectives in its 2020 strategy. We have put forward specific proposals on how to achieve this," he added.

"We are very pleased to see that MEPs want to strengthen EU farmers' position in the food chain to ensure that they get a better return from the market.

"The best way of doing this is by concentrating on supply via the development of producer organisations, such as cooperatives. Action to tackle unfair commercial practices is also required," Mr Personen said.

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