Dáil Éireann - Volume 499 - 02 February, 1999

Written Answers - CAP Reform.

162. Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food his strategy for the agricultural sector in Ireland in entering the CAP reform and GATT negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2448/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): At meetings of the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers since last March when the detailed proposals for CAP reform were presented by the EU Commission, I have made it clear that the Irish Government cannot accept the proposals in their present form as they would seriously damage Irish agriculture and the Irish economy. Since the commencement of the negotiations I have obtained acknowledgment of the importance of beef and milk to Ireland by having written into the conclusions of the Agriculture Council in May last a statement that the dependence of particular member states on specific sectors would be taken into account in the final agreement.

I have put Ireland's case forcefully in bilateral meetings with Commissioner Fischler and with ministerial colleagues. Bilateral discussions have also taken place at official level. In addition, I will be having further bilateral meetings with the Commissioner and with the German Minister, who is now President of the Council, over the coming weeks. It is my objective in these negotiations to secure a final agreement which will provide a favourable framework within which the Irish agriculture and food industries can continue to develop for the benefit of those engaged in those industries and for the economy as a whole.

The next round of trade negotiations under the auspices of the WTO is not due to commence until the end of this year. The EU will participate in that round as a single entity. One of the objectives of the Commission in formulating its CAP reform proposals was to prepare for that round of negotiations. The detailed negotiating position [1043] of the EU will be determined after the final outcome of CAP reform is known and Ireland will participate fully in that process.