Ireland's EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has warned that the negotiations over the next EU budget cycle will be prolonged and difficult because of the hole in the budget left by Brexit and competing demands for EU spending elsewhere.

The European Commission has recommended a five percent cut to the farm budget in its first draft of the seven year EU budget.

As such the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) would be reduced to €365 billion.

However, the EU Agriculture Commissioner told RTÉ News that cuts to income support to farmers in Ireland should be offset by savings elsewhere, and by bigger contributions from the government.

"The vast majority of [Irish] farmers should not feel the cuts," he said.

"This is a very difficult negotiation at a time when you have a €12bn cut in the EU budget [due to Brexit] and you have people looking for money for other priority policy areas, such as security, defence and migration," he said.

Mr Hogan said the maximum amount cut off the direct payments scheme in Ireland should be 3.9%.

With Brussels proposing to cap the maximum direct payment any one farm can receive to €60,000, down from €120,000, Commissioner Hogan said the savings of €120 million should offset any cuts to farmers.

"Most of the small and medium sized farmers in Ireland - I'm talking about 40 hectares or less - should not have any cut in their payments," he said.

A cut in Rural Development funds should, he said, be covered by the Irish exchequer.

"If the gap in the Rural Development programme of €47mn is paid by the Irish Government, which I expect they will post 2020, it means that farmers in the disadvantaged areas, areas of natural constraint as we call them, will not have a cut in their budget either."

Already the proposed cut to CAP has drawn a swift condemnation from France, which called the move "unthinkable."

The ICMSA President Pat McCormack has condemned the proposed cuts as "unacceptable", saying it would have a disproportionately damaging effect in through the multiplier effect of the impact on the wider rural economy.

Mr McCormack said that farmers have suffered significant cuts in previous CAP reforms and were now, yet again, having to take a substantial hit - particularly those farmers depending on farming for their living who will be hit with an additional convergence cut.

"The Irish Government must firstly tell the Commission that cuts to CAP are out of the question and Member States - including Ireland - must make up the Brexit deficit and, secondly, we must seek out Member States with a similar commitment to the integrity of CAP and make a common cause with them," he said.

Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness warned the cuts would hit both direct payments and rural development funds, but added that this was an opening proposal from the Commission.

"That will be determined by the response of member states to the proposal and whether they are willing to stand by cuts to farm payments and cohesion policy," she said.

"This proposal is made on the basis of calling on member states to pay more and making savings/cuts in some policy areas, taking account of the impact of the UK leaving the EU."

The budget negotiations are expected to take between 18 months and two years.