Video: Hopes high for an agreement on European farm policy today

Irish officials worked on draft texts throughout the night

Video: Hopes high for an agreement on European farm policy

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times


The Irish Presidency hopes to reach final agreement today on a common EU position on the Common Agricultural Policy, the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said.

Speaking this morning ahead of the second day of meetings in Brussels, the Minister said the presidency has “the basis for an amended, changed and improved text,” following late night discussions.

“We have tried to accommodate key concerns and in that way satisfy all countries that they have got something significant in these changes.”

Mr Coveney is chairing the negotiations on behalf of the Irish presidency. Meetings between the presidency, Eu ropean Commission and individual members states finished shortly before midnight last night in Brussels, with Irish officials working on the draft text throughout the night.

A final text is expected to be agreed this evening.

Yesterday, the Minister warned of the challenges ahead in gaining agreement. “No country is going to get exactly what it wants from CAP reform,” he said ahead of the negotiations. “We have 27 member states, all with different perspectives, different agricultural structures, different farm sizes As you would expect they have different priorities, some have different red line issues. As the presidency it is our task to try and find a compromise that everybody can live with.”

Among the most contentious issues under discussion is the single farm payment, which is moving to a flat payment per hectare system, rather than the current system which calculates payments based on past production. Farming representatives argue that the new system will reward inactive farmers. The new proposals also include new environmentally-friendly measures, as well as greater transparency around the distribution of direct payments.

Discussion on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy has been ongoing since 2010, when the European Commission published initial proposals on a new model for the scheme, which represents around 40 per cent of the European Union ’s budget. Last week the European Parliament agreed its negotiating mandate so if the council agrees its position today, negotiations will commence with the European Parliament on April 11th.

The Irish presidency hopes to reach an overall agreement by the end of June.