The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, will chair the informal meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers which takes place in Dublin on Monday and Tuesday next, 27 and 28 May. As well as bringing Member States up to date on the progress of the CAP reform trilogues with the European Parliament and the Commission, the Minister will depart from the normal format of this meeting by involving the European Parliament directly in an informal discussion which he hopes will assist the process of reaching political agreement on a number of outstanding political issues in the CAP reform package.
The meeting will consist of two separate discussions on each of Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 May. On Monday, in addition to Commissioner Ciolos, the Council will be joined by the Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development, Paolo DeCastro, together with the Parliament’s Rapporteurs on each of the four CAP reform dossiers and the Co-ordinators from each of the Parliament’s political groups. Minister Coveney’s intention is to give the opportunity to the Parliament to outline its position on some of the key political elements of the CAP reform package directly to the Council, and to facilitate an informal exchange between the institutions on how agreement on these issues might be found. These issues include the internal convergence of direct payments, coupled payments, sugar quotas, export refunds and areas of natural constraint (formerly known as less favoured areas).
Minister Coveney - “We have to be bold and innovative in our approach, and it is in that spirit that I have invited key members of the European Parliament to join the Council and the Commission for informal exploratory discussions on how we might resolve some of these outstanding political issues."
On Tuesday, the meeting will revert to the normal Council format, with Minister Coveney leading a follow-up discussion between Ministers on how the Council itself could help to facilitate an overall agreement on the issues discussed on Monday.
Minister Coveney said:
“At the Council of Agriculture Ministers in Brussels two weeks ago, I commenced what I believe is a vitally important process in the effort to secure agreement on CAP reform by the end of the Irish Presidency in June. Those discussions on the potential grounds for political agreement between the three European institutions in a number of key areas will be intensified at the informal meeting of Agriculture Ministers in Dublin, where we will be joined by our colleagues from the European Parliament, who are our equal partners in the decision making process.”
The Minister looked forward to what he hoped would be a fruitful two days of discussions. He emphasised that this informal engagement between the institutions is designed to assist and feed into the formal negotiations, and to help the protagonists to develop their thinking in an informal setting. He expressed confidence that all participants would approach the proceedings in an open manner, and that they would use this opportunity to make an important contribution towards meeting the overall objective of completing an inter-institutional political agreement on CAP reform by the end of June.
Minister Coveney said:
“We have to be bold and innovative in our approach, and it is in that spirit that I have invited key members of the European Parliament to join the Council and the Commission for informal exploratory discussions on how we might resolve some of these outstanding political issues. I am not asking anyone to make decisions or enter into commitments, and I will not seek any formal changes in the negotiating mandates of any of the institutions. But I do hope that the exchanges will help to identify potential room for manoeuvre in the areas that we will discuss, and in that way facilitate the Presidency and the Parliament negotiators in plotting the course towards what I hope will be political agreement between the three institutions in June.”