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Minister Smith Emphasises Need for Strong and Adequately Resourced Common Agriculture Policy which "Must be Reflected in the New EU Financial Framework"

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today emphasised "a number of fundamental points which must inform the debate on the reform of the Common Agriculture Policy." 

Minister Smith said that "now, more than ever, we need to focus on ensuring security of supply of safe, high quality and sustainably produced food, for which we will require a strong and adequately resourced CAP. To be meaningful, this will require adequate resources and this must be reflected in the new EU financial framework."

The Minister was speaking at the EU Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels, where Ministers had their first opportunity to exchange views on the recently published Commission Communication on the Future of the CAP after 2013.

The Minister welcomed the three main objectives identified in the Commission Communication - viable food production, sustainable management of natural resources and balanced rural development. Minister Smith made it clear that he favoured "the continuation of decoupled direct payments, the retention and enhancement of market management mechanisms and the development of the current rural development measures along with an increased focus on active farmers."

The Minister welcomed the commitment in the Commission Communication to "simplification", but said that this issue must be borne in mind when discussing any further 'greening' of the single payment. Minister Smith expressed his concern that "we should not underplay or undervalue the substantial environmental public good already being delivered through cross-compliance requirements."

In relation to the proposed redesign of the direct payments model, the Minister expressed his support for "considerable flexibility" in the area of the distribution of CAP funds between farmers within each Member State. The Minister said that "we should not impose a 'one size fits all' payment model on all Member States."

Referring to the MERSOSUR negotiations, Minister Smith said that "Ireland continues to have serious reservations about the negotiations" and repeated his request "for full transparency in these negotiations and to ensure, in particular, that any offers to be made by the EU are preceded by an impact assessment and are seen in advance by the Council."

In advance of this morning's Council meeting, the Minister met the UK Minister for Agriculture, Mr Jim Paice MP, to discuss their respective attitudes to the Commission's Communication on the Future of the CAP. Minister Smith described the meeting as "another in a series of bilateral meetings with other Member States to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern" and said that the two Ministers had a "very useful and welcome exchange of views."

Date Released: 29 November 2010