Progress made on CAP reform deal
As is so often the case, these things go down to the wire, but it looks as if real progress is being made at last on a CAP reform deal. European Union farm ministers reached a revised negotiating position as the clock struck midnight on Tuesday, raising hopes that a new common agricultural policy will be agreed on Wednesday as talks moved to Brussels, reports Reuters.
'We now have a clear updated mandate ... There's lots of momentum here,' said Irish farm minister and Council chair Simon Coveney following two days of negotiations in Luxembourg.
However, Coveney admitted 'There are some difficult issues to resolve. I am not predicting it is going to be easy. It is not.' Issues that still need to be resolved include the deadline for abolishing EU sugar production quotas, which are blamed for pushing up domestic prices and limiting European sugar exports.
A key sticking point in talks could also be who makes the key decisions on issues such as market intervention, with the European Parliament wanting an increased role, something which ministers have been reluctant to accept. Coveney said no member state voted against the revised mandate, but Britain and Germany abstained on the European Parliament issue. Co-decision has already made it more difficult to achieve agreement.