Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 June 2018

Governments resist plans to change CAP funding mechanism

Tarmo Tamm
Tarmo Tamm

Sarah Collins

Governments will resist moves to change how EU farm subsidies are paid, Estonia's rural affairs minister has said.

Tarmo Tamm - whose country holds the EU's six-monthly rotating presidency - has said the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should remain fully financed by the EU, rather than co-financed by governments as mooted by the European Commission this summer.

"CAP should remain common policy, also in terms of financing," Mr Tamm (pictured) said.

He said that changing the direct payments system to include national contributions - which is common under EU regional and research funds - would be a "step towards the re-nationalisation of agricultural policy, and would put member states in an even more unequal competition position".

"We cannot support this idea, as it would be moving away from one of the core principles of the CAP," Mr Tamm said.

The future of the CAP budget is tied in with Brexit - where talks are breaking down over the UK's exit bill - and a Commission paper on the future of the CAP, which Mr Tamm is "hoping" will be presented by the end of the year.

EU countries are also discussing a separate CAP simplification move known as the omnibus regulation, which MEPs have seized on, tacking on more ambitious reforms such as opt-outs from EU competition rules for struggling producers. But Mr Tamm feels that it's important not to mix the legislation in with the overall reform of the CAP.

"To conclude the negotiations, it is important to strike the balance between the original simplification objective of the omnibus regulation and issues that could be discussed in future CAP negotiations," he said.

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Mr Tamm, who will chair EU agriculture ministers' meetings for the rest of this year, is making CAP reform a central priority, and is also throwing his weight behind growing calls to legislate to protect farmers from unfair pressure by large supermarket chains.

"The Estonian presidency will be devoted to strengthening the producers' position in the food supply chain," Mr Tamm said. "Producers tend to be the weakest party in the food supply chain and the challenges faced are similar across the EU."

But Mr Tamm's set-piece during his six months in the EU chair will be a soil conference in Tallinn, from 4-6 October, "to draw further attention to the sustainable use of agricultural soils for the production of food".

"The conference will tackle the connections between soils and policies, climate change, soil information and general awareness raising," Mr Tamm explained.

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