The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD, today welcomed the constructive and helpful contribution made by the European Parliament to the ongoing efforts to achieve a political agreement on the reform of the CAP by the end of June.
Speaking after the conclusion of the Informal Meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers in Dublin, Minister Coveney expressed his appreciation for the Parliament’s positive response to his invitation to speak directly to Ministers. He noted in particular the value of the Parliament’s participation in allowing all three institutions to have a meaningful exchange of ideas and to better understand each other’s positions on some of the key outstanding political issues. It also afforded the Council the opportunity to reflect on these exchanges and to have its own follow-up discussions on how the resolution of these political issues might be pursued.
The discussion with the European Parliament took place on Monday morning, when the Council was joined by the Chairman of the Parliament’s Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development, Paolo DeCastro, the Rapporteurs on each of the four CAP reform dossiers, and the Coordinators from each of the Parliament’s political groups. Mr. DeCastro and the Rapporteurs outlined their positions on key issues including internal convergence of direct payments, coupled payments, sugar quotas, export refunds and areas of natural constraint. Ministers were then given an opportunity to state their concerns and to exchange views with the Parliament in an attempt to identify potential areas of common ground. Minister Coveney described this as a very useful and informative exchange, conducted in a very positive atmosphere in which it was clear that all three institutions remain firmly focused on achieving agreement by the end of the Irish Presidency.
Minister Coveney - "Above all, these talks have reinforced my confidence that I will be able to present a package of measures to the Council at the end of June that will allow us to finalise a political agreement within the timescale we set for ourselves at the commencement of the Irish Presidency.”
Today’s second day of the informal meeting featured a more regular Council gathering, with Minister Coveney leading a follow-up discussion that reflected on the outcome of yesterday’s exchanges. The positions of each of the three institutions on the respective issues were debated, and Minister Coveney sought Member States’ views on how the differences between the institutions might be narrowed in the broader context of reaching a satisfactory overall agreement. He again expressed himself very satisfied with the exchanges, and undertook to reflect Member States’ views as the search for an overall compromise approaches its conclusion.
Minister Coveney said:
“Two very notable things happened at our gathering over the last two days. For the first time, the European Parliament engaged in direct discussions with Agriculture Ministers on important issues that are of concern to us all. They did so in a very open and constructive way, which I and my Member State colleagues warmly welcomed. And that in turn facilitated a very useful and comprehensive Council debate, informed directly by the points arising from the discussion with the Parliament.
“The debate yesterday was very helpful. I am particularly pleased that the Presidency’s unusual initiative in inviting the European Parliament to direct informal discussions has paid some dividend. It was clear that all three institutions acknowledge the fact that important decisions need to be made in the very short term, and I think that the informal exchanges with the Parliament in particular will prove to have been of invaluable assistance as we move into what I hope will be the final few weeks of negotiations.
“I have listened very carefully to Member States’ views on the issues discussed over the last two days. These views will inform the Presidency’s ongoing interaction with the Parliament and the Commission as we try to reach an accommodation over the remaining trilogues and the parallel political discussions in the coming weeks. Above all, these talks have reinforced my confidence that I will be able to present a package of measures to the Council at the end of June that will allow us to finalise a political agreement within the timescale we set for ourselves at the commencement of the Irish Presidency.”