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Coughlan outlines Irish position on EU "CAP Health Check" negotiations

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., speaking at today's meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers in Brussels, said that the CAP Health Check provided an ideal opportunity to reduce the administrative burdens on farmers by simplifying the requirements of the Single Payments System and cross-compliance. She called for this to be "a major focus of the Health Check". There was widespread support at the Council for this position.

The Minister said she had serious concerns about the Commission's proposal to increase the rate of compulsory modulation. Noting that Ireland had shown its strong commitment to rural development through very substantial national exchequer funding, she said she did not see the merit of supporting rural development at the expense of direct payments to farmers, especially at a time when farmers were still adapting to the impact of decoupling.

The Minister also expressed scepticism about the suggestion that changing from a historic to a flat rate model of payment would simplify the Single Payment system and she emphasised that she had no plans to do so in Ireland.

On milk quotas, she stressed the need for careful analysis before any final decisions are taken and said that she was undertaking a consultation process with key stakeholders in Ireland on this important issue. That said, there was a case for an immediate increase in milk quotas and the Minister welcomed the support given by a number of Member States for her position on this.

Minister Coughlan was speaking at the opening discussion by EU Ministers on the Communication from the Commission on Preparing for the CAP Health Check. This is the first step in a negotiation process which is expected to last until the end of 2008. The Minister concluded by stating that she was optimistic that "we can find a practical and useful outcome that delivers real simplification and assists our farmers to take advantage of the opportunities offered by decoupling and by stronger dairy markets".

26 November, 2007

Date Released: 26 November 2007