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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Germany and France to prepare joint position on EU farm reform

The next stage: Merkel and Macron both favour greater centralisation
The next stage: Merkel and Macron both favour greater centralisation

Michael Hogan and Ciaran Moran

Germany and France will prepare a joint position on proposals to reform the European Union’s farm policy, German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt said on Monday.

The European Union is planning a reform package for its huge farm support programme after 2020, especially difficult as the decision by net financial contributor Britain to leave the EU will mean the bloc faces a major funding gap for farm subsidies.

This has led to fears the EU might have to consider cuts to its huge programme of financial support for farmers.

Schmidt said he had met French agriculture minister Stéphane Travert at the weekend during the Green Week food trade fair in Berlin and agreed to prepare a joint German/French position on EU farm reform.

The EU’s common agricultural policy is important for securing food supplies and the policy must give European farmers a long-term perspective, Schmidt said.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed is due to brief the cabinet today on the discussions to date over the new CAP post-2020.

It is expected that full public consultation meetings will be held around the country by the Minister and Minister of State Andrew Doyle.

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The Minister is understood to be eager to engage with communities to hit home the importance of CAP for agriculture and also in the provision of safe and affordable food.

The European Commission is putting the pressure on EU leaders to stump up more money for the post-2020 budget, which will be discussed at a February 23 summit.

It is understood that Brexit will leave a €14bn a year revenue hole, while other new issues such as defence and research will require an extra €10bn.

Further, EU individual payments to farmers could be limited to €60,000-€100,000 according to proposals that were tabled late last year.

EU Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Gunther Oettinger has also said that there is going to be €14bn in structural funds missing from the EU budget due to Brexit and this gap should be 50pc covered from additional Member State contributions and 50pc by budget cuts.

However, he warned that with less than 1pc of Gross National Income (GNI) coming from Member States to the EU budget, it would not be possible to achieve such tasks.

'The Future of Food and Farming'

Allowing Member States greater responsibilities to choose how and where to invest their CAP funding in order to meet ambitious common goals on environment, climate change and sustainability is the flagship initiative.

These are the cornerstone ideas of a Communication by the European Commission on "The Future of Food and Farming", outlining the ways to ensure that the oldest EU common policy remains future-proof.

Allowing Member States greater responsibilities to choose how and where to invest their CAP funding in order to meet ambitious common goals on environment, climate change and sustainability is the flagship initiative.

While keeping the current two pillar structure, the simpler, more flexible approach will set out the detailed actions to reach these objectives agreed at EU level.

Each EU country would then develop their own strategic plan – approved by the Commission – setting out how they intend to meet the objectives.

Rather than on compliance, the attention will be paid more on monitoring progress and ensuring funding is focused on concrete results.

Moving from a one-size-fits-all to a tailor-made approach means the policy and its real-life implications will be closer to those who implement it on the ground.

Support for farmers will continue through the system of direct payments.

The Communication does neither pre-empt the outcome of the debate on the future of the EU finances, nor the content of its proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

Without being exhaustive, it explores some possibilities to ensure a fair and better targeted support of farmers' income.

Climate change and pressures on natural resources will continue affecting farming and food production. The future CAP should reflect higher ambition as regards resource efficiency, environmental care and climate action.

Additional reporting Reuters


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