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Sinn Féin MEPs want maximum simplification to Common Agricultural Policy

19 October, 2016 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP, Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy and Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada have called for pragmatism on the part of the European Commission and Parliament on a proposal that has the potential to make significantchanges to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Speaking from Brussels, Carthy who sits in the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee said:

“Last week, the Commissioner presented the latest in his series of “simplification” proposals to the CAP. While any measures that bring more flexibility to the system of payments are always welcome, the manner in which the proposals has been presented is unorthodox to say the least. These proposals would see changes to rules around voluntary coupled support, income stabilisation rules and the very definition of an “active farmer” through a system whereby MEPs on the Agriculture Committee will be denied the opportunity to take the lead in debating, amending and voting specifically on measures affecting farmers.

“With all of the Commissioner’s simplification measures so far having taken place through legislative back channels, it is clear that an attempt is being made to keep a debate from being had in the European Parliament on the fitness of the CAP to respond to current crises and an equitable redistribution of payments in favour of smaller farmers.  The proposal is now that these measures will be dealt with at the Budgetary Affairs Committee rather than through the Agriculture & Rural Development committee which would obviously be best placed to examine these proposals.

“Last week I added my voice to a growing number of MEPs demanding accountability from the European Commission on these matters.  That the GUENGL coordinator on the Budget committee, Liadh Ní Riada, has supported this position is an important development which must be followed by other groups, particularly Fine Gael’s EPP”.

Ní Riada, who is a member and coordinator of the Budgetary Affairs Committee continued:

“Sinn Féin strongly supports simplification measures in the CAP. Farmers have long been overburdened by the vast mazes of red tape and bureaucracy surrounding the system of payments. However, when it comes to ensuring the best deal for Irish farmers, these matters must be brought before Committees using the correct legislative processes. This way, farmers can engage on issues affecting them as they have done in the past.

“The three Articles in question appear in the Multiannual Financial Framework file which is being discussed as part of a Mid-Term Review. While it is of course not unusual for the Budgetary Affairs Committee to discuss resources allocated to agriculture, it would usually offer other Committees the possibility to vote on changes to substantive Regulations affecting their sectors.

“I will be raising this matter in my capacity as a coordinator of the Budgetary Affairs Committee and will work with my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee, including Matt Carthy, to ensure the best outcome for farmers."

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