Progress made in CAP reform talks in Brussels

Updated: Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013 10:10

Progress is reported to have been made in talks on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy.

The negotiations in Brussels are being chaired by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Farming organisations have said this is a "moment of truth" for Mr Coveney who has to deliver for Ireland.

The aim is for member states to agree on a general approach to a new CAP framework deal, ahead of negotiations with the European Parliament on 11 April.

It is hoped negotiations will conclude before the end of June.

Irish Farmers' Association President John Bryan has warned that Minister Coveney will have to "stand up for Ireland" at the talks.

Mr Bryan said the outcome would be a "true measure" of the minister's ability to protect jobs and growth in the sector.

He said the minister needs to protect the 300,000 jobs in the sector and its multi-billion euro export market.

The IFA has expressed concern at any plans to seriously flatten farm payments, warning that this would hit those with smaller holdings much harder than bigger operators.

Mr Coveney has said he is "confident" that EU member states will agree on a common position by tomorrow night.

He said ministers "wanted to get this done" and that things were moving "from debate to decision".

On the last occasion, there was widespread endorsement by member states on a new approach to direct payments and also on additional transparency measures in the way the CAP is monitored.

Now the focus shifts to rural development, or what is called the greening payment.

Environmentalists have expressed concern that the original plan proposed by the European Commission has been significantly watered-down.

The future of sugar quotas is also due to be decided at this week's talks.