LONDON — The Irish government is considering whether to abandon the EU’s common agricultural policy, according to a senior Irish official who is concerned that Irish farmers have suffered as a result.
The move comes as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called for Irish farmers to “be ready” to leave if Brexit negotiations break down.
Juncker made the comments Monday as he met with members of the Irish Parliament, which has long supported Irish farmers and the EU.
Juncker’s comments come after the Irish government met with senior European Union officials, including European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Jose Manuel Barroso, in Brussels, to discuss Brexit.
The talks came days after Barrose said he would “work to secure” Ireland’s continued membership of the EU if Brexit talks fail.
“The Irish people are very angry about the situation that they are in,” Juncker said Monday, adding that the Irish Government “will work with the EU and its institutions to ensure that our farmers are prepared for any eventuality.”
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who has pledged to stay in the EU, told the Irish Times he would not back down on his promise to stay with the bloc and to remain a member of the European Union.
“There are many, many things that are at stake in this election.
And I’m absolutely convinced that our country is better off remaining in the European union,” Varadki said.
He added that he was not going to give up the fight for Ireland to remain in the bloc.
“We are a very big, proud nation,” Varadickar said.
“And I would like to see our country remain in Europe.”
Varadki has previously said the EU needs to do more to support Irish agriculture, which he says has suffered due to Brexit.
Last month, Varadkis government signed a deal to create the National Agricultural Statistics Agency (NAASA), which will help provide information on the productivity and prices of agricultural products.
NAASI is responsible for collecting data on agricultural production and consumption and helping develop policies to improve the sector, including through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
In the past, Varadas government has been accused of being pro-European and pro-business, while his main rival, Fine Gael leader Micheál Martin, has said he is a Eurosceptic and anti-EU.
On Monday, the Irish Farmers Union called on the government to back away from its commitment to the CAP and to back out of the Common Agriculture Policy, saying it had created a “susceptible and vulnerable” Irish farm sector.
Barroso also told the parliamentary committee that the EU is failing farmers by not doing enough to support the sector and said the bloc needs to focus on supporting the Irish economy.
Barrose’s comments came a day after the European Commission’s Secretary General, Jose Manuel Valls, called for the Irish farmers’ union to continue to support it and to take “every step to ensure the success of the Brexit negotiations.”
“I want to assure all Irish farmers that the government will continue to fight for their interests, to support them, and to protect their interests,” Valls said.
“The EU needs a strong and clear position on Ireland’s position in the negotiations.”
Barros government has already said it would not negotiate with the Irish EU, as it believes that is not a “common position” and that any agreement must be based on “the interests of farmers and all other stakeholders.”
The EU’s Agricultural Policy Commission (APC), which is responsible of all the EU policies on agriculture, said that its members would need to make decisions on their own to ensure they were in line with their national interests.