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Coughlan meets Seehofer on CAP simplification

In advance of Germany assuming the Presidency of the European Union in January, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today met with her German counterpart, Horst Seehofer, in Berlin. Minister Seehofer, who is Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in the Merkel cabinet, is making preparations for assuming the German Presidency of the Union and Minister Coughlan made the trip to Berlin to press him on the issue of CAP simplification. Minister Seehofer has already indicated that he intends to make it a core issue for his six months at the helm of the Agriculture Council and some twenty working groups are planned on the issue.

Speaking following the meeting, Minister Coughlan said: "Our view is that CAP simplification should be about practical measures to reduce bureaucracy and to ease the administrative burden for farmers. Addressing the practical issues surrounding compliance, such as record keeping, the extent of controls and the often complicated conditions that farmers must meet, will be key. We will be supportive of the German Presidency's drive for simplification if it means a reduction in red tape for farmers. Minister Seehofer agrees that time on paperwork must be reduced and farmers must be left free to farm."

Minister Coughlan also discussed preparations for the CAP health check with her German counterpart. She made it clear that the outcome of the budget review should not reduce EU funding available for both CAP and Rural Development in the period up to 2013 and that no further reform should result. The Minister also raised the issues of energy crops and the stalled WTO negotiations. She re-emphasised her stance on WTO that agriculture must not be sacrificed for the sake of an overall agreement when the talks eventually resume. On the issue of country of origin labelling for food products, Minister Coughlan said she was pleased that her ideas on the need to extend this were well received by the German Minister.

The current Finnish Presidency of the European Union will draw to a close at the end of December with the first Agriculture Council under the German Presidency scheduled to take place on 29 January.

21 November, 2006

Date Released: 21 November 2006