Here’s Ireland’s position on some of the current proposals.
Agriculture accounts for 36 per cent of the EU budget and CAP spending will be frozen at 2013 levels under the proposals. The Irish Government’s view is that this is a reasonable starting point for negotiations and points out that additional funds may be available under other headings in the overall EU budget. However, other Member States will be arguing for a reduction in spending from the overall budget – an argument the Irish Government will be resisting.
Ireland receives close to €2 billion a year in CAP subsidies, mostly through the single direct payment system. The Commission is proposing that the system remains, but they want to place a ceiling on the amounts paid out. Under the proposals smaller farm holdings should get an increase in payments but it’s feared some farmers who currently qualify for high payments could lose out. The Irish Government is opposed to the distribution of a flat-rate subsidy and say the mechanism for the distribution of funds is a key issue for Ireland.
Another priority for Ireland is to ensure that funding for rural development is maintained at current levels. Funding will be maintained at 2013 levels under the proposals but Ireland is calling for Member States to be allowed the maximum possible flexibility to implement the payment models and programmes that best suit their farming conditions.
One of the more controversial proposals from an Irish perspective relates to measures aimed at ensuring farmers are taking steps to improve the environment. Farmers will have to diversify their crops, set aside land for ecological practices and maintain areas for permanent pasture. Ireland agrees in principal with the overall concept but believes it’s too complex and that some of the current proposals are too specific, which could take away farmers’ ability to farm freely.
The Commission is proposing to introduce a number of new CAP schemes. Ireland proposed the scheme for young farmers, who can benefit from a 25% top up for five years, and so strongly supports this measure. However, Ireland believes the proposed Small-Scale Farmers’ Scheme – designed to help farms qualifying for payments below €1,000 – should be optional for Member States.