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Minister Coughlan and Commissioner Fischler Boel resolve difficulties over REPS 2 and REPS 3 payments

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., in discussions this morning in Brussels with Commissioner Fischer Boel, obtained the Commissioner's agreement that Ireland could continue as before in paying REPS 2 and REPS 3 participants at the beginning of each contract year.

Welcoming the Commissioner's decision, Minister Coughlan said: "I am very grateful to Commissioner Fischer Boel for her personal intervention to resolve an extremely difficult situation. I had emphasised to her the seriousness with which I viewed the matter, and the risk of damaging Irish farmers' confidence in a popular and extremely successful scheme which has delivered real benefits to society as a whole in terms of landscape, biodiversity and water quality." The Minister added that she had directed her officials to take immediate steps to release REPS 2 and REPS 3 payments which had been on hold since early January.

Commissioner Fischer Boel stated that she had no objection to Ireland continuing to receive REPS payment claims and make payments as has been done in the past, until the expiry of REPS 2 and REPS 3 contracts.

Discussions will continue in Brussels tomorrow at official level on the interpretation of the new Commission Regulations governing payments under REPS 4.

Date Released: 18 February 2008