If public servants continue to make statements and devise policies which expose the EU to ridicule, there is very little prospect that a second Lisbon referendum could be won.
This was stated by Independent MEP Marian Harkin when she described as “ludicrous” the suggestion by a Teagasc official that farmers or department inspectors would have to count the birds in fields and hedgerows to prove that targets under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS ) were being met.
“The statement at the annual conference of REPS, by a Teagasc official, that farmers could be asked to prove the numbers of birds and species on their farms in order to show that scheme objectives were being achieved is absolutely mind-boggling,” she said. “If such a possibility existed, it would indeed indicate that the EU was losing its way because if farmers were to be required not merely to meet the requirements of any scheme, but also to be responsible for suggested value for money expectations of taxpayers, there would be no future for the environmental and habitats dimensions of the REPS scheme,” she added.
“The REPS scheme has been an excellent development and it must not be permitted to be strangled by any national or EU bureaucratic nonsense which can only lend ammunition to those who say that such policies reflect an ongoing excessively bureaucratic EU ethos,” she said.
Deputy Harkin called on the Minister for Agriculture to immediately clarify the position in relation to the wildlife dimension of REPS and said that she would raise the issue at next week’s plenary meeting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.