DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA has met with two of the North’s European Parliament members, Jim Nicholson and Diane Dodds in the European Parliament, Brussels.
This was the latest in a series of now regular meetings aimed at fostering good working relationships between local MEPs and DARD designed to maximize the benefit of all constituents in the north of Ireland.
Earlier in the month Minister O’Neill met with Martina Anderson and representatives from her office were also present for the meeting in Brussels.
Speaking afterwards the Minister said: “As the CAP reform and MFF Budget negotiations reach critical stages, I am keen that my department continues its close contact with our MEP’s on these important issues. I’m grateful to them for tabling all of our suggested amendments. I am keen that these will be reflected in the compromise amendments and in the final position agreed by the European Parliament early next year.”
Minister O’Neill also raised the issue of Regional Flexibility. She said: “It is extremely important that in all areas where the CAP Reform legislation provides for decisions to be taken at Member State level, these decisions can also be taken at regional level. I want to be able to take regional decisions that do not impinge on other regions, and vice versa.
“That will also make implementation of a CAP Reform agreement much easier. Regional flexibility needs to be clear and unambiguous in the legal text that is ultimately agreed. I think this is a crucially important issue for us. Unfortunately, it is not an issue of importance for quite a number of Member States which means there is a danger that it could be overlooked.
“I would ask our MEPs for help in keeping this issue on the agenda and in pressing for the necessary amendments within the Parliament.” The upcoming December Council and Common Fisheries Policy were also discussed at the meeting.
In conclusion, the Minister said: “I welcome engagement with the MEP’s and I look forward to ongoing contact with them as we move forward on these important issues.”