Thursday 19 April 2018

Most difficult hurdles are yet to come

IT appears as if Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has managed to get a deal on Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) over the line.

Mr Coveney has also apparently succeeded in his stated aim of limiting the degree of redistribution of CAP funds away from productive farmers, to what the farm organisations had labelled as "inactive" landowners.

Insiders estimated that the level of redistribution from the country's commercial farmers could be as low as €74m.

This will be viewed as a success by farmer representatives, but is certain to be lambasted by the 70,000 farmers who receive very low payments from Brussels.

Worryingly for Mr Coveney, the broad framework of the package agreed by the farm ministers has already fallen foul of EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos.

Commissioner Ciolos was unhappy with the level of redistribution of payments and with attempts to water down the environmental or 'greening' elements of the overall policy.

Since the measures agreed last night will form the council of ministers' position in upcoming negotiations on CAP with the commission and European Parliament, sources in Brussels said the final deal agreed to before the end of June is likely to be a lot different.

Some hard bargaining has taken place over the past two days, but the most difficult hurdles are yet to be jumped before a deal is secured.

The great unknown is how the parliament will approach the talks. For the first time in a real policy area, the European Parliament has co-decision power on CAP and it means to use that influence.

Similarly, the commission will not want to see four years of work on a reform policy hollowed out.

However, one positive for Irish farmers was the news the sugar industry here could re-start from 2017.

Irish Independent

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