'Flaws' in EU food policy - Coveney


There is a “big flaw” in EU policy on food because the main focus of Common Agriculture Policy (Cap) reform is on sustainability and climate change, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said.

He said he was a great believer in sustainability and farming must play its part in relation to climate change but “you cannot ignore the fact that by 2030 the world is going to need 50 per cent more food in volume terms”.

The Cap reform talks were not ignoring it but had largely bypassed it and instead were focusing “almost solely” on the sustainability question, he said.

Mr Coveney said we must find a way of “sustainable intensification of food production” which would protect the climate from irresponsible food production while producing more food. “We cannot continue to have a situation where Europe imports 70 per cent of the seafood that we consume. It’s just not going to be there,” he told the Association of European Journalists in Dublin. Mr Coveney also said he believed Ireland’s hosting of the EU presidency next January would be a “huge opportunity” for us to rehabilitate our image in Europe.

He said it would be a chance for Ireland to re-establish itself within the European Union as “a progressive problem-solving country” that led by example.

“I think there is a fantastic correlation developing in terms of Ireland domestically showing it can recover and make difficult but intelligent decisions... and at the same time take a leadership role as the presidency within the European Union to help solve broader problems as well, to be a bridge-builder and a compromise-finder between bigger states.”

He said he there was a good chance that the overall EU budget would be agreed in December which would be good news for Ireland’s hosting of the presidency.

It had been thought that the budget talks would drag into the Irish presidency which would slow down progress on the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) reform talks. Some 85 per cent of all EU funds that come to Ireland come through the Cap so those talks were “hugely important” for Ireland, Mr Coveney said.