Coveney urges Europe to work together for CAP decision
Irish farm minister Simon Coveney has urged his colleagues in each of the other 26 European Union member states to highlight their top three priorities in the next common agricultural policy (CAP).
“You are not going to get everything you want,” he warned after chairing a three-hour session of the Agricultural Council yesterday morning where every farm minister from Germany to Malta had listed their concerns.
Some had been brief and to the point, others – including the Greek minister – had rambled on but Coveney allowed them all to lay out all their worries before sending them off to smaller groups where he hoped they would hone their demands into a workable CAP. “Do not come back with a list of ten priorities,” he told them. “If you do, we – the Irish presidency – will impose a deal upon you. Narrow your demands down to three and we will try to accommodate them.”
Earlier he had commended the European Parliament vote last week on the next CAP, saying it provided an impetus towards an agreed position by the Farm Council.
“I would urge my colleagues to keep the broader perspective in mind. If we want to conclude an inter-institutional agreement with the European Parliament and the commission by the end of June, we need to agree a council general approach now.
“The parliament demonstrated this week that it is ready to play its part. The council must now do likewise.”
However, the scale of the task he faces to reach an agreement on a general approach on proposals for direct payments, rural development and other regulations emerged with the varied contributions from the farm ministers – a task not helped by the ministers of Cyprus, Bulgaria and Malta all attending their first ever council meeting.
Some countries – such as Italy, Finland, Lithuania and Bulgaria – expressed strong support for coupled payments, with the Italian minister especially saying that all commodities should enjoy coupled support.
But in contrast to the previously expressed wishes of the Scottish Government – which is not represented at the meeting – the UK farm minister, Owen Paterson, in his opening contribution, continued his strong opposition to this form of linked support, which he described as a step backwards to market intervention. If there was to be coupled support, he wanted it limited to a maximum of 5 per cent of the total CAP bill.
Paterson also pitched in on the proposed environmental measures, claiming that existing state schemes should be allowed, a belief which England has held for a long time.
Yesterday’s talks were scheduled to continue into the night prior to written texts being ready for today’s meeting, which is again scheduled to run on, if necessary, until the early hours of tomorrow.
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