MEPs in amendment compromise that could herald agreement over CAP reform

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THE European Parliament is close to reaching a negotiating position on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after its agricultural committee whittled down 7,500 individual amendments to the European Commission’s proposals submitted by MEPs to around 100 compromise amendments.

The move paves the way for the committee to vote on its reform package on 23 January, with the parliament set to sign off the package in March.

The parliament, which has been granted a place at the negotiating table for the first time, will then enter into crunch negotiations with the council of farm ministers from the 27 EU member states to agree the final package.

The aim is to reach agreement by the end of June during the Irish presidency of the EU but that will depend on farm ministers finalising their own negotiating position. Talks have been progressing at a “snail’s pace” under the current Cypriot presidency.

NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller warned earlier this week that, even in the unlikely event of agreement on CAP reform being reached by June, it would be 2015 before the new regime could be put in place because of the time member states would need to set up the computer systems to implement the new support arrangements.