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Coveney outlines serious concerns about CAP Reform proposals

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today expressed a number of concerns about the proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy, following the publication of a series of legislative proposals by the European Commission last week. 

The Minister said that the key issues for Ireland are:

  • Firstly, the distribution of Pillar 2 Funds between Member States which should be done on a pragmatic basis and must not disadvantage those Member States who are below the average per hectare.
  • Secondly, the need for maximum flexibility for Member States regarding direct payment models and
  • Thirdly, that transitional arrangements from the current model for direct payments to any new system, which must be gradual and avoid sudden adjustments for farmers. 

Minister Coveney was speaking at the Council of EU Agriculture Ministers in Luxembourg, where Ministers had their first exchange of views on the new Commission proposals. 

Identifying a number of key issues of importance to Ireland, the Minister highlighted the issue of the distribution of direct payments within member states as the issue of most serious concern.  Minister Coveney said that the proposal, which would impose uniform national or regional payment rates, would "cause massive transfers in Ireland from the more productive farms to more marginal and lower productivity holdings.”   He said that he will be looking for “the maximum flexibility for Member States to design the payment model that suits their own conditions, provided of course that this does not interfere with competition." 

Minister Coveney described the front-loaded nature of the transition process proposed by the Commission as "unacceptable and much too abrupt.  A transition process to any new payment model, whatever that model may be, should be gradual and back-loaded to avoid sudden adjustments and to give farmers time to adjust." 

While not opposed to the greening proposals, the Minister said that he had "related concerns about the proposal to assign 30 per cent of the Direct Payment to a greening component, which will hasten the movement to flat rates of payment." The Minister said that "we need to look at less bureaucratic and simpler means of further greening the CAP, building on what we have already achieved through cross compliance and GAEC."

Referring to the proposal to use 2014 as a reference year for establishing new entitlements, which the Minister said had "generated much comment in Ireland", the Minister said that his particular concern was in relation to the "effect that the proposal could have on the land market between now and then, something my office has outlined in some detail to the Commission." 

Minister Coveney welcomed the inclusion of the provision on payments to young farmers in Pillar 1, which he described as "a positive note, which I very much welcome. It is very important that we support our young farmers and encourage structural change through both the first and second Pillars of the CAP." 

On the issue of Rural Development, the Minister said that his "key point is the method for allocation of Pillar 2 Funds between Member States. I continue to believe that it would be best to use the pragmatic basis as the approach for the distribution of Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 funds combined.  Realistically we cannot agree to an allocation of Pillar 1 funds until we see exactly what is proposed for Pillar 2."  The Minister also expressed concerns about "the very cumbersome process proposed for co-ordination of priorities and spending between the various EU funds; I will be seeking for it to be streamlined and simplified."

Date Released: 20 October 2011