In statements to the media at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Miguel Arias Cañete explained that "we informed them of the common position adopted by the Spanish Central Government and the Regional Governments, the Government analyses that assess the reports presented by the various European Parliament rapporteurs and the amendments resulting from the common position adopted by the Spanish Central Government and the Regional Governments. Agriculture must be a matter of State and the more political groups in Spain that can support these amendments the better".
Furthermore, Miguel Arias Cañete held meetings with the Irish Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, as well as with representatives from Portugal to establish a common position on the issues of most concern for Spain. "We basically spoke about the internal convergence of subsidies, in other words, moving towards a standard subsidy for all regions and crops; and about the need to create flexibility mechanisms that enable exceptions to be made while avoiding significant losses for autonomous regions or farmers. We conveyed this same message to the members of the EPP in the various working groups on the reform so they are aware of the issue and can defend it in commitment amendments", he added.
Co-decision by the European Parliament
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs also met with Capoulas Santos, the Portuguese Rapporteur on Direct Payments and Rural Development Policies, in order to present the Spanish position to him. "The report goes in the right direction, although there is still a long way to go for it not to generate negative impacts on Spanish crop and livestock farming", he explained.
Miguel Arias Cañete believes that these meetings with MEPs are "fundamental" because, for the first time, the European Parliament has co-decision powers and is showing itself to be just as important a player as the Council and the Commission. "All the work we can do from within the European Parliament to improve the reports from the rapporteurs will greatly facilitate matters during the discussion by the Council, because that will be followed by conversations between the Parliament, the Commission and the Council. The more our positions are defined in the texts from the Parliament, the easier it will be for the final result to be positive for Spain", explained the minister.
As regards the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, Miguel Arias Cañete said that a decision will be reached at a single, albeit marathon session of the European Council, "unlike the CAP reform, which is a long drawn out process". "Spain will defend the need for this new framework to maintain current budgetary provisions for the CAP, a position defended by a large number of Member States. We must ensure that the CAP continues to receive at least the initial proposal established by the Commission and presented to the Heads of State and Government. If this multiannual financial framework does not go ahead, or if there is a substantial reduction, we would need to revise the entire CAP reform and the European Parliament has said it will not give its final vote in the Commission until the financial framework is known and proves to be sufficient".
The enormously professional work of the fire fighters
As regards the wild fires in Spain, Miguel Arias Cañete explained that he will respond to a request for him to speak in the Lower House of Parliament in order to report on the wild fires burning in the autonomous regions of Valencia, Murcia and Castile-La Mancha. "I will provide all the information necessary to demonstrate the enormously professional work of all the fire fighters who have put their own lives at risk to tackle these fires, as evidenced by the terrible loss we suffered when one of the helicopter pilots was killed", he said.
Miguel Arias Cañete stressed that "budgetary resources for tackling fires" have been increased this year on 2011. The Central Government has "seventy aerial resources and up to ten brigades available to those autonomous regions that request assistance from the State for putting out forest fires".
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs once again called for extreme caution and told the public "to remain vigilant and avoid carelessness" because "the fire risk is extremely high due to the low rainfall this winter and the high temperatures we are experiencing". "Everyone needs to be aware of the danger posed by these fires to life and the ecosystem", he concluded.