Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, attended the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers in Brussels and used the occasion to discuss Brexit with other Member States and the European Commission.
Speaking after the Council, the Minister referred firstly to the very useful Brexit discussions that had taken place. He said: “I was very happy to have bilateral meetings on both agri-food and fisheries aspects of Brexit with a number of Member States, and with Commissioner Phil Hogan. I met my counterparts from Spain, Scotland and from Estonia, ahead of the latter’s assumption of the Council Presidency later this year. I also met my counterpart and current Council President from Malta for a very useful and informative discussion. I intend to build further on these contacts through bilateral meetings with other key Member States in the coming weeks, in respect of which officials from my Department also held preparatory discussions today.”
Referring in more detail to his discussion with his Spanish counterpart, the Minister said: “This was a very useful opportunity to identify common concerns, and we agreed that we will work towards building a common platform involving the main Member States operating within the UK 200-mile fishery limits. The EU fishing industry is taking a similar approach, and our combined efforts will strengthen our delivery of the EU fishing priorities in the Brexit negotiations.”
Turning to the discussion on the future of the CAP at the formal session of the Council, Minister Creed referred to the enormous importance of this issue for the Irish and European agriculture sectors. He said: “I stressed the importance of ensuring that the CAP continues to evolve in the way that it has over recent reforms, and that it supports the achievement of European strategic objectives. This will help to reinforce the relevance and effectiveness of the policy, and to secure a strong CAP budget for the period post-2020. Key challenges include the need to support sustainable intensification of food production, to help farmers to deal with the effects of market volatility through modern and innovative measures, and to encourage generational renewal.”
Concluding, the Minister noted the Commission’s plans for progressing this issue over the next number of months, and undertook to engage constructively in this process.