Twentieth Report of Session 2019–21 Contents

4Common Agricultural Policy Reform41

These EU documents are politically important because:

  • those elements of the Common Agricultural Policy reform relating to marketing standards will need to be applied by Northern Ireland under the terms of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol; and
  • the EU and UK must also — under the Protocol — agree a limit on permitted levels of agricultural support in Northern Ireland.

Action

  • Report to the House.
  • Draw to the attention of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and the Future Relationship with the EU Committee.

Overview

4.1Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the direct relevance of the EU’s reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is restricted to the impact on Northern Ireland. There are two specific impacts. First, Northern Ireland is required under the terms of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol to continue to apply EU rules on the marketing of agricultural products. Second, the Protocol links the level of agricultural subsidies that may be paid in Northern Ireland to those available under the CAP.

4.2In our letter of 11 June 2020, we looked forward to further information in due course on the decision concerning the level of agricultural subsidies that may be paid in Northern Ireland. We also pressed the Government for more information on the potential impact in Northern Ireland of changes to the EU’s rules on the marketing of agricultural products.

4.3The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Victoria Prentis MP) has responded, noting that — while the UK no longer attends Council meetings — the Government is monitoring the CAP reform negotiations to ensure that they inform the UK’s approach to agricultural policy in respect of Northern Ireland, and indeed the rest of the UK.

4.4The Minister adds that, in respect of the application of new legislative amendments to EU law applicable in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Protocol, Article 15(3) of the Protocol obliges the EU to inform the UK about plans to amend or replace legislation within the scope of the Protocol, and that would therefore be applicable to Northern Ireland beyond the end of the transition period.

4.5Concerning agricultural marketing standards specifically, the Government understands that the proposed amendments to those parts of the Common Markets Organisation (CMO) Regulation42 listed in the Northern Ireland Protocol, are primarily technical or provisions reflecting previously agreed policies; for example, the removal of export refunds or adjustments to wine quality arrangements. The Government does not, therefore, expect this Regulation, nor the wider CAP Reform programme, to impact Northern Ireland significantly, but the Government will continue to work closely with the Northern Ireland authorities in this regard.

Action

4.6While we retain an interest in the matters raised in scrutiny of these files — notably the pending decision of the Joint Committee concerning the level of agricultural subsidies in Northern Ireland — we require no further information from the Government on the CAP reform negotiations. We are exploring elsewhere outstanding queries concerning the mechanism by which the EU informs the UK about plans to amend or replace legislation within the scope of the Protocol,

4.7We are drawing the Minister’s letter to the attention of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and the Committee on the Future Relationship with the EU.


41 Proposals for Regulations on (a) CAP Strategic Plans (b) CAP financing, monitoring and management (c) common organisation of the market in agricultural products; (a) Council document 9645/18 + ADD 1, COM(18) 392 (b) Council document 9634/18 + ADD 1, COM(18) 393 (c) Council document 9556/18, COM(18) 394; Legal base: (a) Articles 42 and 43(2) TFEU, ordinary legislative procedure; QMV (b) Article 43 (2) TFEU, ordinary legislative procedure; QMV (c) Articles 43(2), 114, 118 and 349 TFEU, ordinary legislative procedure; QMV; Department: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Devolved Administrations: Consulted; ESC number: (a) 39830 (b) 39831 (c) 39832.

42 Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products (the CMO Regulation).




Published: 16 September 2020