EU Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan faced tough questioning when he appeared before MEPs in Brussels on Thursday (2 October).

Mr Hogan delivered his opening speech as commissioner-designate, in charge of EU agriculture and rural development.

Then he faced questions from 45 members of the agriculture committee on milk quotas, GMs, the CAP and small farmers.

In his opening address, Mr Hogan, a native of Kilkenny, Ireland, for the past 24 years and a former environment minister, said he wanted to “work closely” with EU parliamentarians to shape European agriculture and rural development over the next five years.

He then turned to the challenges facing European agriculture, and set out his priorities.

Mr Hogan said world demand for food was rising and was expected to increase by 60% by 2050. The EU was “uniquely positioned” to take advantage of that demand.

But food needed to be produced in a way that safeguarded natural resources on which high-quality agricultural production depended, he added.

He said the new CAP must deliver for farmers and rural communities and offer “stability, predictability and practical solutions”.

Important questions on the need for “simplification” of the CAP had been raised by MEPs, Mr Hogan added. And he committed to a comprehensive screening of CAP legislation “to see what can be simplified”.

Mr Hogan said he would review the CAP in 2016 after one year of the policy, with particular regard to direct payments and the arrangements on greening and ecological focus areas (EFAs).

But he said responding to the Russian ban on agricultural products was his “most immediate challenge.

Phil Hogan’s views on:

Sugar quotas

“The abolition of the remaining production constraints, quotas for sugar and dairy will put EU agriculture in a much better position to respond to market signals and global challenges”.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA

“This agreement will be an important priority, but it must also be reasonable and balanced.”

Nitrate regulations

“A balance needs to be struck. Some 40% of Europe’s soils are under pressure, as is 45% of water.”

GM crops

“If member states are against GMs, that should carry equal weight.”

Read also: Ireland’s Phil Hogan lands EU commissioner job