Smith outlines priorities as CAP negotiations enter decisive phase

THE “health check” negotiations on the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy entered a decisive phase yesterday.

Discussions at an EU Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting in Luxembourg ran late into the night and are set to resume today.

French Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Michel Barnier is pushing the 27 member states towards an agreement at the November Council.

These negotiations cover a wide range of issues in relation to the reform of the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP).

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith, speaking from Luxembourg, said he has a number of key priorities in the negotiations.

“In relation to milk policy, I am seeking sufficient milk quota increases and appropriate market management arrangements to ensure a ‘soft landing’ in preparation for the expiry of quotas in 2015.

“It is very important that we have clear, predictable decisions on milk quotas to give policy certainty to producers and to industry.”

Mr Smith is continuing to oppose commission proposals to increase compulsory modulation, a measure under which a percentage of funds from direct farm payments can be diverted to the rural development programme.

Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, in Nantes at the weekend, said she wants a rural development policy which can really hold up under expectations placed on it. “This means that I refuse to add to the list of tasks which it must carry out unless I can also add to its budget.”


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