As I write this, I’m thinking that if I’m lucky I’ll catch the end of the Scotland-Ireland match at the airport before I get on the plane for Brussels.
If there was any doubt that we’re getting to the business end of the CAP negotiations, Monday’s Council of Ministers will dispel it. The Presidency is hoping to get agreement on ten or a dozen outstanding issues, mainly on the Direct Payments regulation.
One new idea on the table is the so-called Irish tunnel: a proposal by Ireland (of course) that by 2019 or 2020, instead of all the basic payment entitlements having to converge on a single value per hectare, they could converge to an average rate plus or minus some fixed percentage. This seems to be favoured by those who, unlike Scotland, don’t intend to split their territory into payment regions.
Another new proposal, from France this time, is that payments could be higher on the first, say, 50 ha per holding than on the remaining hectares.
Our own Scottish clause has been in the text from the very beginning, thanks to our successful early lobbying. But like anything else, it can in theory be amended before the final deal. So we still have some work to do to ensure the final package delivers exactly what we need.