Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has warned that the actual cut to CAP will be more than 15%, triple the 5% proposed by the European Commission last month.
The Ireland South MEP revealed the true extent of the planned cuts to CAP after her latest meeting with EU Commissioner Oettinger.
Ms Ní Riada, who is a co-ordinator on the EU Budget’s Committee, as well as its sole Irish representative, accused the Commission of deliberately obscuring the real cut to CAP in their Seven Year Budget proposals.
“Having reviewed the most recently released figures we now, finally, have the real cuts proposed by the Commission and they are much worse than the already unacceptable proposals announced last month,” she said.
“The real cut to CAP will be over 15%. More than 21% if we do not exclude what Britain received in the past.
“That breaks down as an 11% cut to the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund, through which farmers receive direct payments, and a 28% cut to the European Agricultural fund for Rural Development.
“The European Commission were completely obscurantist when they first released the proposal for the upcoming seven-year budget at the start of May. This was particularly evident to those of us following the developments related to the CAP.
“Commissioner Phil Hogan said the CAP budget would be cut by less than 5%, a cut that would have already been devastating for stretched farmers, yet he never explained how this figure was reached.
“We now have confirmation that this was calculated in an extremely and deliberately misleading manner.
“On a number of occasions I have made it clear to the Commissioner that the information released was wholly inadequate for any real assessment to be done.
“I was assured each time that the Commission staff would be put at the disposal of the Committee on Budgets staff in order to facilitate detailed information sharing. Since then, we on the Budget Committee have been drip-fed information.
“We now know the Commission mostly used current prices without excluding inflation, while deducting from the 2014-2020 period the expenditure made in the Britain in an effort to make the final figure look as favourable as possible.
“This was a cynical move on the part of the Commission. They clearly know how devastating this cut will be to farmers and are hoping to introduce it by stealth.
“As coordinator on the Budgets Committee I am fully aware that the appropriate and standard means of comparing different years in real terms is to use constant pricing.
“The only reason to use current prices is to misrepresent the severity of the cuts.
“Brexit has been used as a justification to cut socially beneficial programmes such as CAP yet the 2021-2027 budget proposed by the Commission is the largest ever EU budget. This is clearly a cut being directed by ideology and not pragmatism.
“It is not a lack of resources but a lack of political will from the EU and the Irish Government representatives on the EU Commission to support our farmers and rural communities.”