Euro MPs fire broadside over failure of CAP talks

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The lack of progress in the common agricultural policy (CAP) reform talks yesterday produced an amazing outburst from European Parliamentarians frustrated by what they described as a “foot-dragging attitude” by the Council of Ministers.

Speaking in Brussels, the chairman of the Parliament’s agricultural committee, Paulo de Castro, accused the council of not making any decisions on the many issues that still require resolution.

He revealed thatc while there had been 24 meetings between the parties, so far not one issue within the CAP reform had been finalised or agreed.

“We have had pleasant discussions but no decisions. Parliament is prepared to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to try and resolve matters before the Irish demit the council presidency at the end of June. We are not stepping back,” he declared.

De Castro believed it was impossible to achieve everything at the last minute in such complex discussions and unless the three-way talks between parliament, council and agricultural commissioner started to produce results this week, then the outlook for a new CAP coming in on time was “bleak”.

De Castro and his two committee rapporteurs expressed his strong disappointment that the council was not willing to even discuss some of the major issues in the CAP. He claimed ministers believed some items were “off the agenda” as they were bound by a decision made on the EU financial framework in February.

Such a position, he said, ignored the Lisbon Treaty, which gave parliament co-decision powers in forming any future CAP, adding there had to be no taboo topics:”Every issue has to be discussed and agreed with Parliament.”

Giovanni La Via, one of the parliamentary rapporteurs, also used strong language to describe the current position stating it was no good the council coming to meetings “just to entrench their positions”, They needed to come with a negotiating mandate, he added.

La Via said he had been “moderately optimistic” after the informal meeting on CAP in Dublin ten days ago but since then he said it was obvious the council did not want to reach compromise on any issues.

“We have three weeks left. We are ready and willing to deal and to make changes to our position. Can they make any changes to theirs?” he asked.

Any failure to come to a deal would not be because of parliament who have been prepared to negotiate and compromise, he added.

Having fired their bullets, the parliamentarians returned to the talks but they did not reveal whether they would attend the final agricultural council under the Irish presidency in the last week in June.