Taoiseach welcomes Support from Farming Community for second referendum on Nice Treaty
The Taoiseach Mr. Bertie Ahern T.D., has today warmly welcomed the positive support of the main farming organisations for the second referendum on the Nice Treaty.
Speaking after his meetings together with Minister Walsh, with both the Irish Farmers Association and the Irish Creameries and Milk Suppliers Agency, the Taoiseach said that this support reaffirmed the Governments view that Irish ratification of the Nice Treaty was crucial if Ireland was to remain a fully engaged member of the European Union. The Taoiseach said I warmly welcome the support of both the IFA and the ICMSA to support the Governments call for a Yes vote in the next referendum to ratify the Nice Treaty.
Ratification of the Treaty of Nice by all 15 Member States is essential for the European Union to enlarge and enlargement is the single most important challenge currently facing the Union. The successful conclusion of the enlargement negotiations with up to 10 new members is the main priority for the Danish Presidency of the EU. The Government will be seeking in the forthcoming mid-term review of the CAP to ensure that the full benefits to Ireland of the Berlin outcome are maintained.
The Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture and Food acknowledged the difficulties facing farm families because of the market situation particularly for dairy products and the continuing bad weather. They also agreed on the need for all the parties concerned to reach an early and satisfactory solution to the implementation of the Nitrates Directive.
The Taoiseach and Minister Walsh also discussed the forthcoming Mid Term Review proposals with the farming organisations. The Taoiseach and Minister confirmed that their position in the negotiations on these proposals is to protect the benefits to Irish agriculture of the Agenda 2000 Agreement.
Referring to the positive contribution that EU membership has played in Irelands economic development, the Taoiseach said that he believed that Ireland must remain a fully committed member of the European Union.
Our membership of the European Union has provided the framework for the prosperity that Ireland now enjoys. In the thirty years we have been members, through strong and committed negotiation with our colleagues, we have seen our country, particularly rural Ireland, transformed with the help of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Structural and Regional Funds. Every sector of our society has been positively touched by, and benefited from, our EU membership. It is vital to our national interest that we remain at the heart of Europe and that the pro-Europe approach of Irish agriculture that has characterised our membership be maintained and strengthened. Simply put, a yes vote in the forthcoming Referendum is a vote for Europe and for protecting Irelands interests in Europe.
In a reference to the proposed enlargement of the EU and the effect that this would have on the farming sector in particular, the Taoiseach said:
I have no doubt that the future expansion of the European Union will provide significant opportunities for Irish business and particularly for Irish Agri-business and the farming community. Given the importance of the agricultural sector to many of the candidate countries, their accession will strengthen the support for the Common Agricultural Policy within the Union.
In 2001, Irelands farming sector received some € 1.6 billion in funding from Europe. It is clearly in the interests of the farming community that Ireland remains a fully committed member of the European Union. I am hopeful that through the support of the main farming organisations, the agricultural sector will vote Yes in the Autumn referendum and that Ireland will ratify the Treaty of Nice.