Opposition parties raise questions about costs and benefits of EU budget

Sinn Féin says new budget represents 10% cut in CAP, and accuses Taoiseach of failing to protect Irish farmers

Independent TD Mattie McGrath: he said  Ireland “is set to become fifth highest net contributor to the fund behind Germany, France, Holland and Sweden”

Independent TD Mattie McGrath: he said Ireland “is set to become fifth highest net contributor to the fund behind Germany, France, Holland and Sweden”

 

Opposition parties have raised questions about the costs and benefits of the EU budget agreed after four days of intensive negotiations in Brussels.

However, they broadly welcomed the announcement that an agreement on a new budget and a Covid-19 recovery fund had been reached.

In the Dáil, Taoiseach Micheál Martin hailed the deal as an “unprecedented” breakthrough which would see, he said, “the EU collectively borrowing for the first time ever”.

However, the agreement on the EU budget, which will see the overall size of the fund for the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) reduced as a result of the UK ceasing its contribution after Brexit, was criticised by Sinn Féin and other Opposition TDs.

But Mr Martin insisted Irish farmers would be protected, and said the special €5 billion fund for countries affected by Brexit would yield significant resources for Ireland.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and Cavan–Monaghan TD Matt Carthy both criticised the new budget as representing a 10 per cent cut in CAP, and accused Mr Martin of failing to protect Irish farmers.

“When people say it is good for Europe, we are Europe. We export our beef and milk products to European markets,” Mr Martin replied. “If Europe does not recover, then our exports of beef, milk and other agricultural products decline. That is the context in which we are working.”

Green Party MEP Ciaran Cuffe said in a statement it was “disappointing that leaders failed to address the twin challenge of a global pandemic and a climate emergency with the resources that are needed”.

“A small number of countries have decided that electoral politics back home matter more than EU solidarity. Poorer countries will play the price for populist politics in wealthier nations.

“’We needed an enormous package to deal with the challenges facing us, one that makes the European Green Deal a reality and creates the new jobs needed for those most affected by the pandemic.”

Inequalities

Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan said that there was a “very high risk” of a return to austerity in some EU countries “ whose economies were paralysed from Covid-19, where major industries like tourism are devastated, will not be able recover at the same pace as richer countries, and this will create further inequalities within the EU”.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said that Ireland “is set to become fifth highest net contributor to the fund behind Germany, France, Holland and Sweden”.

“While this may be a good deal for Europe in terms of showing solidarity and for the European economy, questions must be asked about the increasing burden and levels of debt being placed on Ireland.

“It is worrying that more attention has been paid to getting a deal for Europe rather than ensuring that we get a good deal for Ireland. While a strong European economy will be beneficial to Ireland, we must ensure that the burden placed on us is not too great, and that we will not be left behind, and we need urgent clarity on this.”