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Agreement reached on CAP reform

European agriculture ministers accepted the package tabled by Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney late last night.

Image: Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

AFTER HOURS OF discussions, European ministers reached a deal on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) late last night.

The agreement has been described as a watershed moment by Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.

The package of proposals were tabled by the Irish Presidency.

The negotiation process now moves to the final trilogue stage, where the Irish Presidency will represent the Council in talks with the European Parliament and the European Commission.

“After two long days and nights of discussions, I am delighted to announce that the Council of Agriculture Ministers has taken an enormous step forward in the CAP reform negotiations by agreeing its position on the Commission’s reform proposals,” said Coveney.

“It is difficult to overestimate the scale of today’s achievement, given the range and complexity of issues which have had to be addressed by Member States.”

He added that compromise was required on what have been “extremely sensitive issues”.

As part of the agreement, flexibility in the way direct payments are distributed within Member States will be allowed (something known as internal convergence). This has been a major issue for Irish farmers who opposed a flat-rate system.

Other difficulties addressed include greening payments, sugar quotas and voluntary-coupled support.

Coveney explained: “On internal convergence, we have secured the required flexibility from Member States that allows the Irish model of partial convergence to be included in the options available for the distribution of direct payments. On greening, we have ensured that the payment may be a percentage of each farmer’s individual payment rather than a flat rate, as well as negotiating a difficult and complex compromise on the implementation of the three greening criteria proposed by the Commission. And on sugar quotas, we have secured an earlier abolition of the regime than originally sought by most Member States.”

The target date for reaching an overall agreement and completing all processes is end-June. The Minister has urged continues engagement from all parties to the negotiations.

EU approval of CAP reform leaves farmers ‘in shock’

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