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O’Neill meets EU Commission to discuss CAP Reform

20 July, 2011 - by Michelle O'Neill

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill MLA has met the EU Commission to discuss CAP Reform.

Speaking after a meeting today in Brussels with Georg Haeusler, Head of Cabinet of the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, the Minister said: “The meeting with Mr Haeusler took place at a very opportune time with the publication of the EU Budget proposals at the end of June and the upcoming CAP reform legislative proposals which are expected on 12 October. I took the opportunity to put our views on CAP reform directly to the Commission, with a particular focus on the importance of a sufficient CAP budget and the potential changes in relation to direct payments.”

The Minister continued: “In relation to the CAP budget, I made the point that while the recent budget proposals would see a freeze in the CAP budget at the 2013 level, this represents a significant reduction in real terms. I stressed that it is very important that future budget negotiations do not result in any further reductions.

“I explored the issue of the future shape of the Single Farm Payment Scheme and emphasised the importance of regional flexibility so that we are able to design a payment structure that best suits our industry. Our discussions also covered the issues of payments going to active farmers, a small farmer scheme, capping of direct payments and greening of the Single Farm Payment.

“I was pleased to learn from Mr Haeusler that the proposals will contain a specific targeted scheme for small farmers. Indications are that this would be a lump sum payment for five years and that it would not require cross compliance or other controls. If this can be properly targeted at small active farmers, this would be a very welcome development.

“In relation to the matter of greening of Pillar 1, I outlined a number of concerns and emphasised the need to avoid excessive bureaucracy, and was comforted that Mr Haeusler accepted that the greening aspect will need to be feasible, measurable and have a positive impact.”

The Minister concluded by saying: “We are at the beginning of the CAP reform progress and when the legislative proposals emerge, I intend to seek further meetings with the Commission. I wish to build on the work of the previous Minister in developing relationships with the Commission as I believe this is essential in order to influence the CAP reform debate.”

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