Farm payments should not be 'robbed' to fund new EU challenges - Creed

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has said the current budget proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are not tenable.

Speaking to fellow European Agriculture Ministers in Brussels yesterday, he said it feasible position to keep asking farmers to do more and more yet clearly decide that we will pay them less and less.

"Farmers won't thank us for that and I don't think society generally will thank us either," he said.

He called on his fellow ministers to put pressure on their Governments to maintain current CAP spending.

"We must say that the proposals as published do not represent an adequate budget for the ambition that we have for the CAP.

"It is not a tenable position to ask farmers to do more and more and clearly in the context of the proposals on the table to pay them less and less.

"Europe does face new challenges, but Europe needs to find new money. It is not a rationale to rob the budget of the CAP to meet other challenges< he said.

Under plans for the EU’s budget for 2021-2027, farmers would receive around €232 billion in direct support, a drop of more than €30 billion from the current seven-year budget.

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Minster Creed has been actively engaging with counterparts from France, Spain, Finland, Portugal and Greece, who have all called for the restoration of the CAP budget for the 2021 – 2027 period to current levels.

Up to 20 Member States have joined this alliance and Minister Creed has said the group will continue to work together in an effort to build consensus on this point.

Addressing fellow Ministers for Agriculture today, he said there is one key issue. That is to ensure an adequate budget for the entire CAP.

"The CAP budget is the key," he warned fellow Ministers.

The last EU budget negotiations went down to the wire, taking two and a half years of haggling. Member States and the European Parliament are set for tough talks, with hopes of an agreement in the autumn.

Germany and France, the biggest paymasters putting in 19pc and 17pc of the budget respectively, are ready to plug some of the Brexit gap if the budget suits their new priorities.

aris, for example, wants to see some budget allocated to the 19-member eurozone as part of plans to bolster the EU single currency. With its traditionally strong farm lobby, France is also likely to defend farmers from pressure to cut back on EU subsidies.

Ireland's position on the budget has been so far unequivocal. From the Taoiseach to the Minister for Finance and Minister Creed, Ireland wants to see the budget restored to the previous level, taking into account that there will no longer be the UK contribution.

Some 80pc of the EU funds for Ireland come through the CAP.

For every euro Ireland puts into EU funds we get back a higher amount through CAP.

However, the Commission's proposals are based on a certain increase in member state contributions and not all member states are willing to make a contribution.

The Dutch led the charge for rich northern states unwilling to step into the Brexit breach: “A smaller EU ... should have a smaller budget,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said.

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