ICOS meet with the Cabinet of Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, with responsibility for the EU Budget, on February 22, in order to highlight the vital need for CAP funding to be maintained and for a dedicated Brexit support fund for businesses, within the upcoming EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2017.
Ahead of the publication of a EU budget proposal, expected in May 2018, the European Commission published in February a Communication on “A new, modern MFF for an EU that delivers efficiently on its priorities post-2020“. It outlines a number of options to overcome the €15 billion a year budget hole left by Brexit, through increasing member states national contributions and large spending cuts, including a 15-30% reduction in CAP funding. This was reiterated this Wednesday by Commissioner Oettinger, in a speech to the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee, where he warned MEPs to expect cuts of least 5-10%.
ICOS strongly opposes any reduction in CAP funding and calls for the Irish government to do the same in the upcoming MFF discussions. In order to ensure an effective and sustainable agricultural sector throughout the coming challenges posed by Brexit, it is necessary to maintain, if not increase, the level of funding. It is essential that the EU and Member States continue to recognise the importance of the CAP in delivering high quality and traceable food for consumers and ensuring a fair standard of living for farmers, their families and rural communities.
Martin Keane, ICOS President, voiced this concern to the Commission, stating that “Direct payments within the CAP policy make up over 100% of the income of up to 60% of Irish farmers. Cutting funding would therefore devastate Irish agriculture and have inestimable consequences for agricultural markets and rural economies, which are already under more pressure than ever before, as a result of potential UK market loss, market volatility and ever-increasing regulatory demands in areas such as climate emission restrictions.”
ICOS additionally asked for a dedicated Brexit adjustment fund to be established within the EU’s structural and Investment funds. This will be greatly needed to help businesses through the period of adjustment following the UK’s departure from the EU. This dedicated fund should be targeted at businesses worst hit by Brexit, and focus on:
- Providing capital investment for product and market diversification
- Implementing supply chain adjustment resulting from Brexit market disturbance
- Providing training and upskilling within businesses on the new customs procedures, marketing for new markets, etc
By Alison Graham
European Affairs Executive
29 Jan 2021