Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament.
The future budget for the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) will be debated this week in the agriculture committee of the European Parliament as concerns mount over attempts to slash the budget in light of Brexit and new demands for EU funds, Mairead McGuinness, MEP for Offaly and first Vice-President of the European Parliament has warned.
“This week Commissioner Oettinger who is responsible for the budget will come to the agriculture committee to explain the future financing of the EU, including agriculture policy.
“The European Commission has just outlined options for the CAP in the post 2020 period, including the possibility of a 30pc cut in funding. This is an alarming prospect for farmers, many of whom rely on EU support payments for their livelihoods,” Ms McGuinness said.
She said it also flies in the face of demands from farmers for an increase in the CAP budget which is being voiced at meetings around the country held to get feedback on reform of the CAP post 2020. “For farmers the most important issue for the future is securing a strong budget for agriculture,” she said.
The MEP said there are calls for more spending on migration and security at EU level, with a realization that new policies require new money. “Equally in agriculture, there are new demands to be met, including climate action, yet there are insufficient calls for new funds to meet these challenges.”
She said she will be putting this point to the Commissioner this week, including giving him the feedback of farmers attending the nationwide CAP consultation meetings in Ireland.
“Commissioner Oettinger is right to spell out the options for future financing of EU policies and to warn Member States that if there are insufficient funds coming from member states then existing policies, including cohesion and agriculture could suffer badly.
“The CAP budget supports sustainable farming and food production, high food safety and environmental standards, it also supports rural regions and it is vital for farm viability.
“While there are different views about the future share and orientation of the CAP post 2020, there is a very strong belief among many stakeholders that slashing the budget is not the way forward and would not just undermine farming but also hit rural regions. By spelling out the harsh realities of the budget situation, the Commission is placing the responsibility firmly back on member states who hold the key to a solution.”
Ms McGuinness said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said Ireland is willing to consider an increased contribution to the EU budget, depending on how the money is spent.
“This is a welcome and important signal but we need other member states to also come forward and commit to a strong centrally funded CAP. That means that countries must face up to the reality that more money is needed to fund the EU in the post Brexit scenario,” she said.