CAP reform under the new Irish Presidency

Overview

The Irish EU Presidency commenced on the 1 January 2013. Its agenda for the next six months is focussed largely on stability, growth and jobs as evident in the Irish Presidency programme summarised below:

  1. Securing financial stability: Priorities include: sustainable economic growth and job creation.
  2. Investing in sustainable jobs and growth: Priorities include: developing the digital economy, creating an open Single Market for new employment opportunities (especially for the youth), reaching political agreement on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) and the Cohesion package, driving the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reforms towards green growth, mobilising research and innovation and promoting sustainable green growth by pushing for an agreement on the 7th EAP and a better connected Europe with the implementation of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) highlighted as a priority.
  3. International relations: Priorities include: hunger, poverty and climate change.

Securing agreement on the CAP for 2014-2020

The Irish Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Simon Coveney, is optimistic that an agreement on the CAP can be reached during the Irish Presidency. Coveney has said that ‘If we don’t get a deal, we won’t have done our job properly, as a collective, in terms of the institutions of the European Union.

Despite this confidence from the new presidency, there are many variables that may mean this is an overly optimistic position. Many observers stress that even if an agreement is reached by Ministers in the Agriculture Council, the EU institutional decision-making process will make it very difficult to reach an agreement by June 2013. Nonetheless, progress towards an agreement among Members of the European Parliament (EP) on the proposed CAP reform package is being made with COMAGRI expected to vote on a consolidated set of rapporteur amendments on 23-24 January and hopefully agree that this provides the mandate for entering into inter-institutional negotiations via the trilogue process. The EP Plenary is expected to approve the negotiating mandate in their February meeting (see capreform.eu).

Of course a pivotal factor determining whether or not an agreement on the CAP will be made in the next six months is whether or not an agreement will be reached on the MFF proposals. The President of the EU Council, Herman van Rompuy, has called an EU Summit for 7-8 February in an attempt to reach an agreement on the MFF.

Even once an agreement on the MFF is made by Ministers it will then require EP approval. Thus, for the first time this week, the Commission have admitted formally that the new CAP reform package is unlikely be ready for implementation on 1 January 2014, with 2015 considered a more feasible starting date. 2014 is expected to be a transition year, with transition arrangements being worked up currently. For Pillar 2, this would mean that existing agreements could continue to be funded as already planned, but that no new grants or land management agreements could be entered into.

The Irish Presidency also marks the beginning of the Fifth Presidency Trio. This Trio includes the Lithuanian and Greek Presidencies and with the European elections scheduled to take place in May 2014 and the current Commission concluding the same year, it is expected to be a politically intense period with a large number of proposals under negotiation.

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PUBLICATION DATE

18 Jan 2013