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Coveney positive on CAP following intensive discussions with key players

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has said he is cautiously optimistic about a deal in 2013 on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) following his discussions this week in Berlin, Rome and Budapest. The Minister also said that he felt he was making useful progress in building support for some key Irish positions in the negotiations.

"We face some big challenges in seeking an agreement on the CAP that can command sufficient support in the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the Commission. However my discussions with some key players on the Council, along with my recent engagement with Members of the European Parliament and the Commissioner lead me to be hopeful that we can succeed if there is real will to do so", Minister Coveney said.

The Minister was speaking after returning from separate meetings with Minister Ilse Aigner in Berlin, Minister Mario Catania in Rome and Minister Sandor Fazekas in Budapest. Noting that good progress had been made in the negotiations on the CAP during the Danish Presidency of the EU, the Minister expressed his confidence that further significant advances could be made under the Cyprus Presidency of Minister Sofoclis Aletraris in the second half of this year. "The challenge will then fall to the Irish presidency in early 2013 and I am determined to be ready for that and to ensure that we will do everything possible to achieve an agreement", said Minister Coveney.

The Minister said that his discussions with his colleagues had covered the full range of issues involved in the interrelated negotiations on the EU's budget for the next seven years (the Multiannual Financial Framework) and the CAP. "I stressed to my colleagues the absolute priority we must attach to defending the CAP budget in the MFF negotiations, and I was pleased by the common view we shared on this. In relation to the details of the MFF and the CAP negotiations, while there are specific national positions in relation to many of key issues, I was also pleased to note sufficient common ground to provide a good basis for further negotiation. A major purpose of these discussions for me was to explain the Irish position on some of the key issues in the negotiations.  In relation to the distribution of direct payments to farmers within each member states, I explained our desire to partially but not fully converge these payments using a model already proposed by the Commission for distribution of payments between Member States. From the responses to our proposals, I am satisfied that we are making good progress in building alliances on this key issue.  I was particularly pleased to have gained the support of the Italian Minister on this point.  Italy, Spain and Portugal are now closely aligned to Ireland's position and I will continue to work with other countries to increase that grouping", Minister Coveney said.

"I also emphasised the importance of a fair deal on the distribution of funds between member states, including rural development funds on which the commission has not yet made a proposal. I got a good hearing on these points and made some useful progress but I must stress that there are still tough negotiations ahead, and we are still far from agreement on these points. Overall I think this was a very useful and productive visit to three key Member States and I intend the continue to process of intensive engagement with all our negotiating partners in the lead up to the Irish presidency", concluded Minister Coveney.

Date Released: 27 July 2012