Austrians lend support to coalition opposed to post-2020 CAP cuts
Austria will fight for farm spending post-2020, despite pushing for an overall EU budget cut.
The country's agriculture minister, Elisabeth Köstinger, told the Farming Independent that she wants to "maintain" the same budget for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the EU's 2021-27 spending plan.
"The heads of state will make the final decision on the EU budget," said Ms Köstinger, who currently chairs EU farm ministers' meetings. "However, as minister of agriculture, I will work to maintain the CAP budget."
Austria, one of the bloc's budget hawks, wants an overall cut to the EU's trillion-euro seven-year budget. But with 87pc of Austrian farms in mountainous or difficult-to-reach areas, the government is also keen to keep farm subsidies and rural development money at current levels.
The minister joins around 20 of her EU colleagues in pushing for CAP spending to be frozen at current levels (around €56bn a year for the EU as a whole). The European Commission has suggested cutting the budget by 5pc post-2020.
With Brexit, migration and other priorities weighing on EU spending plans, agriculture chief Phil Hogan says governments will have to stump up any extra cash they want for the CAP.
The European Commission is also overhauling how and why farm subsidies are paid, linking them to environmental, animal welfare and other EU goals.
Ms Köstinger, whose full title is minister for sustainability and tourism, said that while European farmers face "major challenges", they also need to boost their climate credentials.