Euro MPs Compare CAP Notes With Farm Ministers

07 November 2011
Alyn Smith MEP has welcomed today's 'tripartite' meeting of the Agriculture Committee with the agriculture ministers of the EU Member States along with the European Commission as a useful and constructive start to the upcoming CAP negotiations.

The gathering featured contributions from, amongst others: the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek; the Chairman of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Paolo de Castro; the Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos; and the current Polish Presidency; along with a cast of thousands from Agriculture Ministries across the EU.

The discussion was frank and wide-ranging, with a focus on key issues such as the distribution of funds between Member States, the controversial "greening" proposals for Pillar I, the proposal to cap individual direct payments to large recipients, and the structure of rural development funding.

Alyn said:

"What today's meeting lacked in detail it made up for in terms of seeing how the wind is blowing. With Parliament having full co-decision powers on the critical CAP reform dossier for the first time, it is vital to have close and open channels to the Council and to the agriculture ministers of the European Union countries.

"It's just as important to be able to discuss issues of dispute in a calm and amenable manner, and that's what we did today. I found myself agreeing with much of what was said by most of the speakers, including even UK minister Jim Paice, such as the need for greater simplification of the payment system to farmers and cross compliance, and the need to ensure that producers gain adequate bargaining power in the supply chain so that they can achieve a fair price for their produce.

"While there are to be sure areas of disagreement, they should be able to be ironed out so that we can reach a settlement that is fair for all European farmers and which helps tackle the long term goals of food security, fighting climate change and ensuring the economic vitality of rural areas.

"The discussion made it clear that we're going to have to re-think some of the Commission's proposals, including the structure of the "green" payment to farmers. In my view that will be no bad thing. The more discussion we have and the more we analyse what the real world implications will be, the better the eventual package, and it is vital Scotland is all over this."