Independent Ireland’s European election candidate for Ireland South Eddie Punch believes a significant increase in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) represents a key objective that the next parliament must address.

“CAP spending, as a percentage of EU GDP, has fallen from 0.54% in the 1990s to 0.36% in 2022.

“That’s short-changing farmers at a time when production costs have escalated. The next EU parliament will have to strongly campaign for increased CAP spending, if we want to take food security seriously," he said.

Negotiating the EU budget in 2025 will be the first step in delivering such an objective, Punch argued.


"These negotiations will test out whether established politicians are serious about the CAP or not because it requires member state governments to make choices about whether they will increase contributions to the EU budget or not," Punch added.

“The next step however, is the debate about what proportion of the EU budget is allocated to CAP. I believe that this is a critical debate and must be informed by the risk to food security and the value provided by the CAP to EU consumers and the EU economy.”

The CAP costs 33c per day for every citizen of the EU, which Punch maintained is remarkable value for plentiful, nutritious food.

"But there’s more to it than that. In 2023, the EU had a net trade surplus of €70bn for agri-food products, while the CAP is actually costing €56bn/annum. That means that we are essentially getting EU food for free, in terms of public expenditure and the EU economy.

“The problem is that this is not translating into farm incomes and, unless this is fixed, we are rapidly heading towards a scenario where very few young farmers will take on the job of feeding the EU.

"This would prove catastrophic and that’s why this issue should feature among the most pressing priorities of all European Parliament candidates," he said.