THERE was a double dose of good news yesterday for Scottish farmers from Scottish MEP George Lyon, who has been shuttling between common agricultural policy (CAP)reform talks in Brussels and the Highland Show.
After close on two years of negotiations, Lyon said he was “reasonably confident” that the reform package would be agreed next week.
And, he added, last-minute talks had achieved sufficient devolved decision making to allow Scotland to have its own version of the CAP.
Lyon’s confidence in getting a deal will depend on agreement between the Council of Ministers, meeting in Luxembourg at the beginning of the week, the EU Agricultural Commissioner – who set the reform ball rolling in 2011 – and the EU Parliament agricultural committee, who also meet in Luxembourg at the beginning of the week but who will sign the new policy off in Brussels on Wednesday or Thursday.
He indicated that, while there is still a lot of detail to fill in, the determination of the politicians to do a deal before the Irish demit the presidency of the EU Council at the end of June was critical.
The coming together of the various parties has been achieved through a series of meetings between the three main groups.
Lyon has been involved in these and said the latest big achievement was on internal decision making, allowing regionalisation on every part of the CAP.
“The Scottish Government can take the decisions on the national reserve, how much coupling they can use within the limits that are set in Europe, how they implement greening and the time scale between moving from direct to area payments,” he said.
This deal had been agreed despite opposition from the Spanish, who were vehemently opposed to a policy which might cause them internal problems.
On new entrants, he said there had been a change from the original qualifying date of 2011 to this year provided that those in that category had documentation to say they traded or had been producing prior to this year.
The Commission also reported yesterday that the principle of greening – paying farmers for the provision of environmental public goods – was accepted but many of the details still needed to be agreed.
Their report added those countries that already had environmental schemes might see their existing schemes accepted to avoid “double funding”.