A CAP reform deal may not now be reached until autumn, according to a senior government official involved in the negotiations.
Ireland, which holds the EU presidency, is working towards a CAP deal by the end of June. But the goal is widely seen as ambitious.
The timetable for agreement may indeed slip, acknowledged Martin Nesbit, DEFRA’s director of EU and international and affairs, during a seminar at the NFU annual conference.
The European parliament was due to adopt its position and preferred amendments on CAP reform in March – but this may slip to April, suggested Mr Nesbit.
The European council of agriculture ministers was also trying to bring its discussions on CAP reform to an end in March, he told conference delegates in Birmingham.
“I have put a question mark by that because there is still an awful lot of detail to get through in those negotiations,” said Mr Nesbit on Thursday (28 February).
“We’ve got two-and-a-half weeks until the March council [meeting] so I am now slightly sceptical we will get a deal in March – if we don’t then hopefully it will be in April.”
Once this deal had been struck, the council and parliament would have to get together and try to resolve their two positions – hopefully by the end of June.
“Again, I put a question mark by that, because again there is an awful lot of detail to get through,” said Mr Nesbit during a seminar on the issue.
“The deal we reach in June – or possibly a little later in the autumn – should start to provide some clarity for farm businesses,” said Mr Nesbit.
For more on this topic
News from the NFU Conference 2013
Watch the video interview with Paolo De Castro, chairman of the European Parliament AGRI Committee on the next steps in CAP reform