Europe remains on track for a CAP reform deal by the end of June, according to Irish farm minster Simon Coveney.

Mr Coveney welcomed what he described as a “very helpful step forward in the CAP reform negotiations,” saying EU farm ministers had broadly supported the thrust of proposals tabled by the Irish presidency relating to the distribution of direct payments within member states.

Discussed by ministers at an EU farm council meeting on Tuesday (25 February), the proposals are aimed at furthering the convergence in support payments between member states while recognising the different types of farm structure across Europe.

Mr Coveney said the issue was important to the overall CAP reform negotiating process. Member states had shown a readiness to move forward on the issue of how to distribute direct payments within countries, he added.

“Their evident desire to reach a compromise on one of the most sensitive issues in the CAP reform package was very heartening. This was particularly the case in relation to the distribution of direct payments within member states, or ‘internal convergence’.”

Paolo De Castro, chairman of the European Parliament AGRI Committee the talks about the next steps in CAP reform. Video by the EU Policy broadcaster

Some member states expressed strong support for the Irish proposals, while others thought they should go further towards flat rates. Member states also raised a number of issues in relation to coupled payments and the area-based payments system in new member states.

Mr Coveney said the issues would be consideredfurther in the context of finalising the council’s overall position at its meeting in March – and on the well-established basis that nothing was agreed until everything was agreed.

“The council generally endorsed the package of proposals presented by the Irish presidency as a step towards a full council position. We still have a number of issues to reflect upon, but I am confident that these can be finalised as part of the preparations for our next meeting in March.”

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