The EU’s largest farm lobby group Copa-Cogeca – of which the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is a member – called on EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger this month to maintain agricultural expenditure at current levels, as a reduction in CAP spending would threaten ‘farmers’ livelihoods, the production of high-quality foods and the delivery of the EU’s environmental and social goals.’
At an assembly meeting on June 15th, farm representatives raised ‘serious concerns about the potential trade and budget impact of Brexit on European farmers and their co-operatives,’ saying the farming community ‘should not have to pay the price of Brexit.’
In response, the EU Budget chief pledged to do his best to ‘support the agricultural sector,’ but ‘could not promise’ the budgetary allocation would remain the same. He supports the added value of a common framework and urged against a set of national farm policies.
The coffers are expected to take a hit as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the Union – a €10-€13 billion annual cut to the Community budget – Oettinger told delegates. He reiterated the ‘serious challenges’ facing the EU, such as the refugee crisis, migration, border protection and the fight against terrorism. The German Commissioner pleaded with national farm associations to ‘play a strong and constructive role in the debate’ and lobby their respective Commissioners, Agriculture and Finance Ministers and heads of state and government to safeguard the CAP budget.
Meanwhile, prominent MEP Mairead McGuinness said that EU countries, including Ireland, must ‘have a conversation’ about contributing more to the budget once the UK leaves the EU in 2019: ‘The re-orientation of the CAP to make its goals more climate-smart, more climate-friendly is something we should focus on,’ the First Vice-President of the European Parliament stated.
Discussions on the long-term budget post-2020 are expected to kick off in earnest next summer – originally scheduled to start after the German elections on September 24th – when there is more clarity on the Brexit question.