European agriculture ministers met on Monday 26 February in Brussels to address the current concerns of farmers in the short and medium term.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue stressed the need for a simpler and better funded Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with farmers firmly at the centre.

Proposals were made around reviewing the conditionality associated with basic income support payments, a rationalising of member state controls and increasing flexibility for farmers who make genuine errors in their applications.

Speaking at council, Minister McConalogue said: "This council takes place against the background of farmer protests across Europe. These farmers are looking to the council to respond to their concerns now.

"The Common Agricultural Policy is part of the constitutional framework of the European Union because the authors of the treaties recognised the critical importance of food security in Europe.

"There are new pressures now and the CAP is also expected to deliver for the environment. Farmers are committed to improving the sustainability of their operations, but it is critically important that in pursuing this objective, we do not make life impossibly complex for them," he said.


He went on to say how the council and the Commission must work quickly now to make sure that the CAP can achieve its food security and environmental objectives in a way that is simple and practical for farmers and administrations.

The Minister also emphasised the need to ensure that the CAP maintained its position at the heart of the European Union.

“For decades, the Common Agriculture Policy, combined with a strong CAP budget and robust operation of the single market, has supported farmers effectively.

"The current CAP is asking farmers to do more and more for the environment, but this has not been reflected in an increased CAP budget.

"If we are to fully respect the role of farmers as food producers and as stewards of the environment, this must be reflected in a strengthened CAP budget in the next multi annual financial framework," the Minister said.

Concluding, the Minister emphasised the critical importance of a strong and well-financed CAP for farmers, for the food industry and for European Union citizens and said that it was important to listen to farmers so that policies developed can be practical and effective.