Worries over Common Agricultural Policy as EU agrees Covid-19 recovery fund

Worries over Common Agricultural Policy as EU agrees Covid-19 recovery fund

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the coronavirus recovery fund will reboot and re-engineer recovery. Photo: AP

There has been a mixed response here to the €1.8trn EU Covid-19 recovery deal agreed overnight.

The 27 leaders finally agreed on a package for countries hit the most by the virus, after five days of marathon talks in Brussels.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called it an impressive response to a historic recession while the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it will reboot and re-engineer recovery.

However, Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly said the deal comes at a price "especially in some programmes that we would want developed and increased rather than decreased".

Ireland will contribute to countries hit hardest by Covid-19, who can avail of €750bn of loans and grants.

Social Democrats spokesperson on European and Foreign Affairs, Cian O’Callaghan, said there are serious challenges ahead for the EU and its citizens.

He said: “We saw in the last recession how the decisions and approach by the EU impacted people in Ireland and other countries leading to austerity from which many have not yet clawed their way back.

The cuts to health, research and the just transition fund to appease the so-called Frugals are deeply disappointing and the type of short-term thinking which creates long-term crises.

“It is also very disappointing that conditionality on the Rule of Law has been excluded."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and French President Emmanuel Macron in Brussels today. Photo: AP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and French President Emmanuel Macron in Brussels today. Photo: AP

European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne thinks the package will benefit the Irish economy.

Mr Byrne said: "It's really important for us that all of Europe is doing well. That's how our businesses, both small and large, succeed and how our jobs are created.

"So, we were pushing very hard in a moderate group for an agreement."

The Common Agricultural Policy has been reduced by €35bn, with The Irish Farmers' Association saying the Government must make up the shortfall here.

Vice President of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness is worried about farmers.

Ms McGuinness said: "It is interesting that in some of the policy areas there are details which are normally left for the Agriculture Ministers. So then those will have to be analysed from an Irish perspective.

"It's better that the leaders agreed on a package that they are all signed up to now rather than leaving Brussels with no deal on the table."

IBEC said the deal brings confidence to the Irish business community, but Labour leader Alan Kelly said the grant package is 20% less than planned and is not large enough.

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