Hogan stands by 'halfway house' proposals on farm payments convergence
EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has defended his proposal for 75pc income convergence as part of his post-2020 farm reform plans.
The Commissioner's comments follow a vote by the European Parliament's agriculture committee in favour of all per hectare direct payments moving more rapidly towards 100pc convergence - a change favouring farmers with lower payments on less productive holdings.
The agriculture committee has endorsed a move to have payments reach at least 75pc of their average direct subsidies by 2024 and 100pc by 2027. Mr Hogan told the Farming Independent that he respected the parliament committee's right to make this recommendation.
"But we have made a proposal that is a kind of half-way house and I am standing by that. It will go before the Council of Agriculture Ministers in June and it is a decision for them," Mr Hogan said.
The EU tensions, however, come at a time of flux in the Brussels decision-making apparatus. The policy-guiding the Commission's mandate expires formally next November, but their replacements are likely to be known this summer.
While Commissioner Hogan is tipped to remain as Ireland's Commissioner, it is less likely that he will retain the agriculture portfolio.
At the same time European Parliament elections are due in late May, with polling in Ireland fixed for Friday May 24 next.
Early opinion polls suggest the EPP group, to which Fine Gael is aligned and which supports the Hogan convergence proposal, will lose a lot of seats. The new parliament's attitude to the CAP reform proposals remains to be seen.