CAP reform facing delays over budget and Brexit - EU officials

Phil Hogan, the EU’s agriculture commissioner. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Phil Hogan, the EU’s agriculture commissioner. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is facing a significant delay, due to uncertainty over Brexit and the future EU budget.

The distribution of payments, worth €1.7bn annually to Irish farmers, had been set for a major overhaul in 2021, however, an EU source told the Farming Independent that transitional arrangements are now necessary for the CAP in 2021.

"Even in the most optimistic scenario, the rules for the new CAP will be agreed too late to be able to be implemented in time for the first year of the new CAP period."

The current draft CAP regulations contain provisions for the Commission to adopt transitional measures.

In the past, similar transitional regulations have seen commitments under existing schemes roll over a period of 12 months.

Ireland has raised the importance of having transitional arrangements in place for the Rural Development Programme with the Commission and outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.

Earlier this month, assistant secretary at the Department of Agriculture, Paul Savage, highlighted the challenging timetable facing CAP negotiators.

Mr Savage also highlighted concerns relating to an agreement on the next budget of the EU known as the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) which leaders are set to debate this autumn.

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Under the withdrawal agreement between the EU and UK, the UK had agreed to continue paying into the EU budget for the remaining years of the current MFF.

However, if the withdrawal agreement is not concluded and there is a no-deal Brexit, the impacts on the EU budget will need to be clarified.

The loss of the UK's contribution to the budget would need to be mitigated by either increased contributions from other Member States, reductions in EU funding programmes, or a combination of both.

Under the current EU budget proposal for 2021- 2027, funding for the next CAP is set at €365bn. This equates to a cut of approximately 5pc to the overall CAP budget, representing a cut of 3.9pc to Pillar 1 and direct payments, and 15pc to Pillar 2 which deals with rural development.

Writing in today's Farming Independent, Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament, says that "despite repeated calls from the Parliament for a fully funded CAP, the working assumption is there will be a cut to the budget, with rural development policy facing the deepest cuts.

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