CAP, IN HIGH-LEVEL MEETING WITH IRISH PRESIDENCY, COPA-COGECAOUTLINES PRIORITIES IN TRIALOGUE TALKS ON CAP REFORM

In a high-level meeting with the Irish Presidency today, Copa-Cogeca outlined key priorities in the trialogue talks between the EU institutions on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform. Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen underlined the need for a final agreement by June to enable the new CAP to be introduced in 2014. A positive and rapid decision is crucial to enable farmers and cooperatives to get on with their production and investment plans. The move came as EU Farm Ministers discussed the issue. Speaking to Irish Minister Simon Covenay in Luxembourg, Mr Pesonen insisted that support must go to active farmers, pointing out that Ministers and MEPs approach on this goes in the right direction. “Much more flexibility should also be in incorporated into the “greening” measures under CAP reform so that measures deemed to be equivalent are authorised”, he said. This has also been called for by many Ministers. Commissioner Ciolos said it must be done in a simplified manner and he is ready to analyse it. “With food demand on the rise, the rate for reducing the amount of land available for production should not go above 3% and farmers should be able to cultivate environmentally friendly crops on this area”, Mr Pesonen added. He went on to highlight the need to strengthen the role of producer organisations , pointing out that recent EU Commission reports show that producer organisations, like cooperatives, can help farmers get a better price for their produce. A step in the right direction is the proposal to extend product coverage for recognition of producer organisations (POs). More efficient tools to regulate the market and reduce the extreme volatility is also needed. The EU reference prices for beef, dairy, rice and olive oil must be updated to take account of higher input prices. Other priorities include keeping EU sugar production quotas until 2020 and maintaining planting rights in the EU wine sector.

On fisheries issues, Mr Pesonen welcomed the fact that the Irish Presidency wants to reach a political agreement on Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform within its mandate but he insisted that this cannot be done at any rice. “Despite some positive developments in the trialogue meetings, the most contentious issues such as when and how to set catch levels in relation to the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) objective or the discard ban are still unresolved. We believe that the objective of achieving MSY by 2015 is too rigid and unrealistic. The aim to ban the practice of fish discards according to a strict timeframe from 1st January 2014 is also a source of great concern to the European fishing sector as vessels are not equipped with the necessary storage facilities to land at the port all sort of fish that has been caught”, he said. Wrapping up, Mr Pesonen highlighted the need for adequate CAP transitional arrangements in 2014 and expressed his serious concerns about EU Commission proposals to cut EU farmers direct payments under the CAP by 5% in 2013. “The cut had not been planned for and risks jeopardising important investment decisions already made by farmers for 2013 and deepening the current economic crisis”, he warned.

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