Flanagan to Hold Hogan to Account on Cap Simplification

MEP Luke Ming Flanagan welcomes Commissioner Hogan’s commitment to simplify the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). He said that this would resonate with every farmer throughout the land.

In this current round of CAP many farmers felt that opportunities that were presented were not taken up by national Governments to simplify the implementation of the CAP budget .

While subsidiarity in implementing programs is at the heart of the EU and giving National Governments flexibility is to be welcomed, in turn National Governments must be mindful of the overarching aims of the CAP, and to protect it in the long term it should remain insofar as possible a ‘common’ agricultural policy.

In particular the new schemes and structures proposed for implementing the Rural Development Fund (pillar II) are moving in the opposite direction of the vision of Commissioner Hogan.

The 2006 to 2013 round of funding saw good well-funded environmental schemes and disadvantaged-area payments make up the bulk of the payments to farmers, which underpinned the viability of many small farms.

This round of Pillar II funding 2013 to 2020 is characterized by the mainstreaming of discussion-type schemes and other schemes all of which have cost implications for the farmer at the expense of previously cost-neutral schemes. This has also undermined the budget available to fund the new GLAS scheme and the disadvantaged areas scheme.

The current protracted impasse in implementing the terms and conditions for commonage farmers to enter GLAS is an example of current Government thinking in that conditions are being imposed which are not required at EU level but again will have a cost implication for farmers involved.

This approach in Ireland has been raised at EU level in that the authenticity of ‘independent advice’ by Teagasc – who themselves will be major beneficiaries of the schemes – has been questioned.

MEP Flanagan concluded by saying that this was an issue he would return to as the thrust of the current plan was in the wrong direction and was not in line with EU thinking.

EuropePaul Cotter