Barry Cowen, the new Minister for Agriculture
The Minister for Agriculture Barry Cowen T.D., today, Tuesday, June 30, stressed the need to match the increased environmental ambition in CAP with an appropriate budget to be allocated in order to ensure achievement of this ambition.
Speaking during his first engagement with EU Member State counterparts at today’s video conference of EU Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers, Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius, Minister Cowen stated, “Ireland has always favoured a strong green ambition in the new CAP. The recent Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies have highlighted the direction of travel for European Agriculture . As we move forward, if we are to deliver on the environmental ambition, we must provide the necessary financial support for farmers.”
The Minister emphasised the need to move quickly to consider the implications of these new strategies on the basis of full impact assessments. He also pointed to the need for further clarity in relation to specific elements of the CAP reform proposals that will underpin the achievement of environmental objectives, including conditionality and eco-schemes.
Minister Cowen took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of agreeing an EU budget that would facilitate the achievement of a high level of climate ambition. Putting this also in the context of the agriculture sector’s vitally important role in helping to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, he said, “the core issue here is the funding provided to support the Common Agricultural Policy. We need to value, support and, most of all, we need to properly fund, the CAP system that enables this to happen.”
In relation to fisheries, the Commission presented its communication on the state of play and orientation for 2021 fishing opportunities. Minister Cowen noted the significant progress being made towards delivering sustainability in the fisheries which is of huge importance to Ireland. Minister Cowen said “there has been considerable progress made in rebuilding fish stocks in recent years under the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy thanks to the efforts made by the fishing sector itself in particular and other stakeholders. However, I made clear that we face serious issues involving our quotas shares and access to UK waters as the negotiations with the UK on a new fisheries agreement continue. I emphasised that Ireland, as an island nation, is committed to protecting the interests of our fishing industry and will continue to work constructively to meet the challenges that will undoubtedly arise over the coming weeks and months.”