The Irish currently occupy the Presidency of the EU and this week they set out their reform roadmap. They want to finalise a Council position by the end of March and hammer out a political agreement on CAP reform by the end of June. It is a position that received strong endorsement from EU Farm Ministers at this week’s Council meeting. Speaking ahead of that meeting Simon Coveney said that his aim is to “force the pace on the CAP debate and discussion” so as to “get the job done” by the end of June.
However, the Presidency plan is hinged on a deal on the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) at the Budget Summit on 7/8 Feb. It is clear that if agreement is not reached in the budget the Irish plans to reach a deal will not be possible. The CAP will be part of the negotiation on the budget between heads of state. At the last meeting on the budget there was disagreement on the size of the CAP and how cuts in the budget should be imposed, with many seeking to defend direct support at the expense of rural development funding.