The Department of Agriculture has said there would be no decisions made in relation to continuation of existing Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) schemes such as GLAS until an agreement is reached on funding at EU level.
With the reform of the CAP logjammed in discussions, Transitional Regulations to bridge the gap between the current policy and its replacement are under negotiation in Brussels.
This week the European Parliament Agri Committee (COMAGRI) voted on its report setting out its position on the proposals.
The proposal is largely technical to allow for the continuation of the existing rural development programmes, subject to certain rules and conditions and to provide for a budget 2021. There are a number of key points that are not yet resolved. Firstly, the issue of the budget – this is linked to the outcome of the discussions on the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), the EU Budget which is not yet agreed by European Council (Heads of State).
The second issue is the timescale. The Council position provides for a one-year transitional period, but is accompanied by a Council Statement recognising that a second year may be required but noting that this can be decided later in the negotiations, when the position on the MFF (EU Budget) and CAP post 2020 is clearer. It is expected that the European Council will look again at the EU Budget over the next month, although agreement is still uncertain and further complicated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The European Parliament draft report agrees that the transitional arrangements should run for 2 years unless the EU Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) and the CAP post 2020 packages are both agreed by October.
According to the Department of Agriculture, in relation to the continuation of existing schemes such as GLAS and BDGP, as there is still no certainty on the budget, or on the timeframe of the transitional measures, no decisions will be made around the Rural Development Programme schemes, including agri-environment schemes, until clarification is provided.
"Ireland has pressed for the earliest possible adoption of this legislation, so that we can provide certainty to farmers and rural communities at the earliest possible time, and plan for the transitional period with legal and financial certainty," it said.
ICSA president Edmond Phelan has welcomed the European Parliament Agriculture Committee’s position on extending the current CAP arrangements for up to two years but said that the real issue is the need for full funding for CAP in the period. “Of course, in the absence of agreement on a new CAP, we have to extend the current CAP. But it is bizarre that there is so little outrage that the threat of cut in CAP funding is still on the table. EU leaders are ignoring the elephant in the room. It is all very well agreeing to CAP extension but we need to see a resolution to the funding logjam.”
“Given the unprecedented disaster posed by Covid-19, it is absurd to contemplate cuts to CAP funding. The Multiannual Financial Framework proposals which potentially involve a 12% cut need to be set aside. We cannot allow diminution of CAP payments for 2021 and 2022. Farmers across Europe are on the verge of going broke and it is totally unsatisfactory to see the lack of decisive action.”
“At last, the Farm Commissioner has admitted that a crisis fund, with extra funding from outside the CAP is required. ICSA has been saying this for weeks now and it is alarming that Europe continues to prevaricate on this. The heads of state need to stop messing around; we need money and quickly for farmers," he said.