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Minister Coughlan and Commissioner Fischer Boel meet prior to address to Joint Committee on Agriculture and Food in Dail Chamber

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, and EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Mariann Fischer Boel, met bilaterally today prior to their addressing the Joint Committee on Agriculture and Food in the Dail Chamber on the subject of European Agricultural policy in the context of Europe Day.

Minister Coughlan and the Commissioner discussed a number of issues including the current WTO negotiations, the market situation for dairy products, reform of the sugar sector and the Nitrates Directive.

On WTO, the Minister said that the ongoing negotiations represented a huge challenge for EU and Irish agriculture. She reiterated that the EU offer of October last year represented the absolute limit to which Ireland and the EU could go in terms of the negotiations. Ireland simply could not contemplate any further concessions on agriculture. Such concessions would unbalance the negotiations further and would necessitate a further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. The Minister acknowledged the efforts of the Commissioner in defending the CAP and said she would be working in close support with the Commissioner as the negotiations proceed.

The Minister also highlighted her concerns about the current difficulties on the dairy market and requested the Commissioner to ensure that EU market management tools, particularly export refunds, are used effectively to ensure the overall stability and export competitiveness of the sector.

The Minister also discussed with the Commissioner developments in relation to sugar reform and the need for an urgent resolution of outstanding issues in relation to the implementation of the Nitrates Directive.

10 May 2006

Date Released: 10 May 2006