Hogan raises Brexit & CAP at Kilkenny event

EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, Phil Hogan.

EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, Phil Hogan.

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan was glad to be home last week but his points on the effects of Brexit didn’t make for welcome news for Irish beef farmers.
Prices could fall for cattle and sheep and the lack of UK money going to the EU will hit direct payments to farmers, he told a ‘Citizen’s Dialogue’ event held in Kilkenny on Thursday last.
A 12 per cent hit across the EU budget as a whole is like, he suggested and with farming and CAP taking up 38 per cent of the total budget, one can see why the Commissioner spoke of the challenges that lie ahead.
“Populists seek to divide people into us and them – ‘they’ are bad, ‘we’ are good,” he stated. “Of course ‘they’ are usually from far away, or look different to us. We have seen this poisonous populism infect Europe in recent times. It is the primary cause of Brexit.”
Commissioner Hogan added: “Successive British governments sought to curry favour with the populist British tabloid media. Rather than face down their lies, they sought to ride the wave of populist Euroscepticism. This ended up in the Brexit mess we are now left with.”
On the other hand, he stated: “We see those who faced down the lies and distortions of the populists. In France, Austria and the Netherlands, the populist, anti-everything brigades were faced down and called out. Real debate and real dialogue took place. This is the sign of a healthy democracy.”
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Regarding CAP, he stated: “It is notable that over 50 cent in every euro of farm income in Ireland comes from EU payments. Where would rural Ireland be without this continued support from Europe? The rural enterprises funded by LEADER. The playgrounds, the community centres, the public facilities funded by EU structural funds.
“All this EU investment is obvious and apparent to us here in Ireland. EU membership has seen us become a dynamic, well-educated, outward looking economy and society. We do business now with 180 countries. Before membership, we almost entirely dependent on our large neighbour to the east.”
Expanding on Brexit, he stated: “In the circumstances, I am glad to see that the issue of the Irish border is one of the three main priorities of the EU negotiation position. This is a huge diplomatic success for Ireland. Our main issue with Brexit, namely the potential for a hard border, is now also a primary issue for the EU as a whole.
“This is solidarity in action. The more united the EU27 is, the higher the likelihood that we will get a good deal for Ireland, avoiding a hard border and duties on our agri-food exports to the UK.
“Our top priority must be to keep the current trading arrangements with the UK to the greatest extent possible. This also require a realism from the British side which I hope will dawn post-election.”
No-one in Brussels wants a hard border, he stressed. “Certainly no one in Ireland wants a hard border. So far, London is the only place driving a hard border. Allow me to be even clearer – if London insists on leaving the customs union, this will be the road to a hard border.
“So far, this “utopia” thankfully only exists in the pages of the British Tory manifesto. We must do everything our power to walk our British friends back from the cliff face of a hard Brexit and a hard border. Remaining in the customs union would avert this ‘Made in Britain’ disaster from occurring.”
On CAP, Phil Hogan described it as “one of the true success stories of European cooperation…The CAP guarantees safe, affordable, high-quality food for our people – produced to the highest standards. I have said on a number of occasions that we should consider renaming it the Common Food Policy. President Juncker in December reminded us of the policy’s immense geostrategic importance: a continent which cannot feed itself depends on the goodwill of others.
“We must remember that this can only remain the case if farmers can make a living from their work. If we want to maintain food security and the highest food standards in the world, we must support our farmers through the CAP.”

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