CAP deal completed in Brussels

EUROPEAN politicians last night hammered out the final agreement on the outstanding issues surrounding the next common agricultural policy (CAP).

Although the Irish had managed to push through the majority of the reform package before they gave up the European presidency in June, they left the Lithuanians to complete the deal.

At the beginning of this week’s talks, Lithuania’s farm minister, Vigilijus Jukna, pictured, stressed his determination to see a conclusion to the CAP discussions and yesterday saw him involved in tripartite meetings dealing with the final issues.

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The final agreement includes a clause placing a 5 per cent minimum penalty on all recipients of more than €150,000 of support annually. Some countries had tried to increase the level of this penalty but it was resisted by those member states, including the UK, where the scale of farming is greater than in some others.

Only those countries which are going to introduce double support payments for smaller-scale farmers – below 30 hectares – will be exempt from the top limit penalty.

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Last night’s negotiations will lead to no change in the permitted levels of support given in direct payments nor in wider environmental objectives.

The focus now moves to the member states and, speaking from Brussels, Scottish MEP George Lyon said there was now an urgent need for the Scottish Government to move swiftly to tell farmers how much financial support they could look forward to over the next seven years.

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“With the full implementation date for the new single farm payments entitlements only 15 months away, it is vitally important that they are given the maximum amount of time to plan for the future.”