The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., has this week stressed the need for the design of the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to be informed by the need to provide maximum flexibility for Member States, and for the framework to be as simple as possible for farmers and Member States.

Speaking during the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of Ministers in Brussels this week, Minister McConalogue welcomed the progress made to date on the CAP negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament, ahead of a planned “super trilogue” on 26 March. At the same time, he emphasised the need to adhere to these basic principles, saying, “We need to have the scope within the CAP to tailor our approach in accordance with national and local farming conditions.”

Minister McConalogue, along with 13 other Member States, presented a paper calling for simplification.

He said, “We should bear in mind from the outset that the New Delivery Model for the CAP has to support simplification, for Member State administrations and, especially, for our farmers. We should be able to protect EU funds fully within a clear and simplified New Delivery Model, while still having the flexibility to, for example, deal fairly and proportionately with farmers who have made errors in good faith.”

With regard to the targeting of direct payments, Minister McConalogue said, “I have always been clear that I support capping. On convergence and the complementary redistributive scheme for sustainability, Member States need maximum flexibility.”

Speaking on the market supports elements of the CAP, Minister McConalogue called for the maintenance of support measures under the Common Market Organisation regulation as had been agreed by the Council in its General Approach of last October.

He said, “The market measures proposed contain a range of tools that can be employed depending on the circumstances. All of these should be maintained.”

In this regard, the Minister questioned a number of the Parliament’s amendments that would undermine the voluntary nature of any future volume reduction schemes. He also noted Ireland’s serious concerns about the proposals, “which could impose penalties on farmers that run counter to the principle of market orientation, and could fundamentally undermine the existing voluntary nature of volume reduction schemes.”

The Agri Fish Council also discussed the Commission’s recommendations to Member States to implement the new Farm to Fork Strategy within the new CAP Strategic Plans. Noting Ireland’s support for the Farm to Fork Strategy, Minister McConalogue called on the Commission to present comprehensive impact assessments on the Farm to Fork proposals.

He said, “This process must be informed by comprehensive impact assessments, and I welcome the indication from the Commissioner today that these are well under way.”