The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney today outlined Ireland’s Presidency priorities on agriculture at the first meeting of the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers under the Irish Presidency. The immediate priority is to finalise the Council’s position on CAP reform by the end of March.
At today’s Council Minister Coveney outlined the work programme for the 6 months ahead. He identified conclusion of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy as the single most important objective for the sector.
The Minister presented his proposals for a road map for CAP reform that would see the Council agreeing a common position on all outstanding issues by the end of March, and entering into negotiations with the European Parliament and the Commission with a view to achieving full political agreement between the three EU institutions by the end of June.
Minister Coveney: I am confident that with intense work and the willingness of all to accept imperfect compromises we will reach a successful conclusion to these complex negotiations.
To achieve this very ambitious timeline, the Minister proposed a series of ground rules for future work, starting from the premise that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. Instead Ministers should focus their efforts on the 30 or so outstanding issues, many of which are politically sensitive. More importantly, he appealed to Ministers to mandate their representatives to the Special Committee on Agriculture and the Working Groups to agree realistic compromises on as many of the outstanding technical and political issues as possible in order that a manageable workload can be left to the Council itself.
The Minister acknowledged the challenges ahead and emphasised the importance of the European Parliament, Council and Commission finding common ground on the open issues to secure a reform of the CAP that is good for Europe and that preserves the EU 2020 principles of smart, green growth.
Minister Coveney: The Council has a responsibility to take decisions that provide certainty to Europe’s farmers about the direction of future EU policy
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Minister Coveney commented: “Today I sought the collective commitment of the Ministers from the 26 other Member States to move from the debates we have had so far to the decision making phase of our negotiations. I do not underestimate the extent of the task ahead. It is the nature of negotiations that the issues not yet agreed are the most contentious and politically difficult. However, I am confident that with intense work and the willingness of all to accept imperfect compromises we will reach a successful conclusion to these complex negotiations. The reality is that we have been discussing these reforms for several years now and there is a short window of opportunity that we must now use to achieve agreement. There is no point in further delaying matters. The Council has a responsibility to take decisions in parallel with the European Parliament that provide certainty to Europe’s farmers about the direction of future EU policy in these sectors.”