The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today welcomed what he considered a very helpful step forward in the CAP reform negotiations after EU Agriculture Ministers broadly supported the thrust of proposals tabled by the Irish Presidency relating to the distribution of direct payments within Member States.
EU Agriculture Ministers today held a comprehensive discussion on a package of proposals tabled by the Irish Presidency dealing with the difficult issue of how to distribute direct payments within Member States. The package was informed by the desire to give more flexibility to Member States as they try to reconcile the generally agreed need for greater convergence in payments with the need to ensure that any new arrangements are consistent with Member States’ individual farming conditions.
Minister Coveney - I am very pleased that my Member State colleagues have today shown a readiness to move forward on the issue of how to distribute direct payments within Member States.
Minister Coveney acknowledged the constructive engagement of his colleagues in today’s proceedings. The overall tenor was very supportive of the approach adopted by the Presidency, and although in some cases that support was conditional on progress in other areas, or on further improvements to the text, it provided the Presidency with very clear guidance on the remaining issues to be resolved.
Minister Coveney said:
“Over the last few days I spoke of the importance of this Council to the overall CAP reform negotiating process. I am very pleased that my Member State colleagues have today shown a readiness to move forward on the issue of how to distribute direct payments within Member States. Their evident desire to reach a compromise on one of the most sensitive issues in the CAP reform package was very heartening.”
This was particularly the case in relation to the distribution of direct payments within Member States, or ‘internal convergence’. Many Member States expressed strong support for the Presidency’s proposals, while others thought the Presidency should go further towards flat rates. Member States also raised a number of other issues in relation to coupled payments and the area-based payments system implemented in the new Member States. The Presidency undertook to consider these matters further in the context of finalising the Council’s overall position at its meeting in March, and on the well-established basis that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
Minister Coveney said:
“The Council generally endorsed the package of proposals presented by the Irish Presidency as a step towards a full Council position. We still have a number of issues to reflect upon, but I am confident that these can be finalised as part of the preparations for our next meeting in March.”
The Minister also reflected on the Council’s debate on the mislabelling of meat. He welcomed Member States’ agreement that the EU-wide nature of the problem required an EU-wide response, and he stressed that recent efforts to deal with the controversy would continue. The Council agreed that it would keep the matter under review.
Speaking about the mislabelling of meat products, Minister Coveney said:
“As regards the mislabelling of meat products, again I felt the Council had a very productive exchange of views. All of my colleagues are agreed that the response to the controversy must continue to be an EU-wide one, and that the Council should keep the matter under ongoing review.”
The Council also agreed on the publication of information on CAP beneficiaries and discussed the under-supply of protein feed in the EU.