The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, will chair the second meeting of the Agrifish Council under the Irish Presidency on Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th February. In the agriculture area, Ministers will discuss Presidency proposals aimed at reaching agreement on how direct payments are to be distributed within Member States. They will also consider the issue of the publication of data on CAP beneficiaries.
Minister Coveney intends to use the first day of the Council to make what he hopes will be a significant step forward in the CAP reform negotiations.
Minister Coveney – “The torch has now passed to Agriculture Ministers, and we have to show serious intent in our first substantial discussion of a major hurdle on the road to agreement on CAP reform.”
Speaking about the meeting Minister Coveney said:
“All Council meetings are important when we are at advanced stages of negotiations on significant dossiers such as CAP reform. However, next week’s meeting is particularly important, coming as it does after Heads of State and Government have agreed the budgetary framework for the next seven years. The torch has now passed to Agriculture Ministers, and we have to show serious intent in our first substantial discussion of a major hurdle on the road to agreement on CAP reform.”
After setting out ambitious plans to agree a Council position on CAP reform by the end of March, the Minister hopes to use the additional momentum provided by the European Council’s agreement on the EU budget to negotiate the difficult hurdle presented by the question of how to distribute direct payments within Member States. The Commission has proposed a movement to a flat-rate system by 2019, while Member States have in general presented a range of alternatives which, although consistent with the Commission’s broad objectives, take what they feel is greater account of their own farming conditions. Minister Coveney intends to navigate a path to agreement with a set of proposals aimed at addressing Member States’ concerns.
Minister Coveney said:
“The Irish Presidency has put together a strong, coherent set of proposals that I believe addresses the concerns that have been raised by Member States regarding the internal distribution of direct payments. This is an extremely difficult and complex issue, but if a spirit of compromise can inform the debate, we can take what would be a hugely significant step forward that could in turn generate a very positive dynamic around the remaining negotiations.”
The Minister will also seek Member States’ views on how the shared objective of reinforcing public control over the use of CAP funds can best be achieved. Debate will focus on Commission proposals aimed at dealing with a European Court of Justice finding in November 2010 on the publication of information on CAP beneficiaries.
Other important issues to be discussed include the latest situation on the mislabelling of meat products and the undersupply of protein feed in the EU.