By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies see our privacy policy page.

Text Size: a a
Home A-Z Index Subscribe/RSS Contact Us Twitter logo small white bird

Statement of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the Agreement on CAP Reached Last Night - Topical Issues Debate of 20th March 2013

The agreement on the CAP that was reached last night is a major stepping stone in the negotiations on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy that have been going on for over four years now.

Ministers from the 27 Member States of the EU accepted a package of proposals tabled by the Irish Presidency, and successfully concluded what is known as a General Approach on the CAP reform package.

The agreement between the 27 Member States is not the end of the road for these negotiations. But it allows the negotiation process on CAP reform to move to the final, so-called ‘trilogue’, stage, where the Irish Presidency will represent the Council in discussions with the European Parliament and with the Commission. The successful completion of the Council’s deliberations means that the Irish Presidency’s target of an inter-institutional political agreement by the end of June remains very much on target. Moreover, the strength of the qualified majority given by the Council puts the Presidency in a strong position in these negotiations with Parliament and the Commission.

Last night’s outcome was good for the Irish Presidency. But more importantly, it was good for Ireland. The Council endorsed the principle of flexibility in the way in which direct payments are to be distributed within Member States.  This is known here as internal convergence. This had been the outstanding issue in the negotiations from an Irish perspective. The inclusion of the model proposed by Ireland in the range of options for Member States holds out the prospect of significantly lower transfers of payments between farmers than would be the case under the Commission’s flat rate proposal.

I was also pleased that with the Council’s agreement to my proposals on the greening of direct payments. These proposals add to the Commission’s original proposals the necessary flexibility so that farmers can practise sustainable agriculture without overly bureaucratic impediments. The agreement also addresses Ireland’s requirements for a greening payment to be applied as a percentage of each farmer’s single payment rather than as a flat rate.

I was particularly pleased that Member States agreed a compromise proposal which provides for the ending of sugar quotas in 2017. This is a good outcome and pulls back substantially from the 2020 end date that had been demanded by many Member States.

Other key features of the Council’s agreed position are an increase by two percentage points in the rates of voluntary coupled support. Ireland will have the option of using up to 7% of our national envelope for such payments. There was also agreement to the implementation of new Areas of Natural Constraint and a change in the proposed reference year for the establishment of payment entitlements.

It is difficult to overestimate the scale of last night’s achievement, given the range and complexity of issues which had to be addressed by Member States. It proved possible thanks to the determined commitment of my colleagues to reach an agreement, which was matched by their readiness to compromise on what for them have been extremely sensitive issues.

The four main proposals agreed last night cover the full breadth of the CAP and it is right that we acknowledge this achievement. But I am very conscious that it is only an interim success. We need to move on quickly from here and build on the momentum of the last week, which has also seen the European Parliament finalise its position on the CAP reform package. I am very hopeful that all participants across all three institutions will maintain their focus and redouble their efforts so that, together, we can bring the reform negotiations to a conclusion by the end of June.

Date Released: 20 March 2013