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Saturday 17 November 2018

McGuinness hits out at EU auditors criticism of plans of new CAP

Mairead McGuinness MEP
Mairead McGuinness MEP
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Concerns have been expressed about the European Court of Auditors report published today which sharply criticizes the proposed reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the period after 2020.

The proposed reform of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020 falls short of the EU’s ambitions for a greener and more robust performance-based approach, according to an Opinion published today by the European Court of Auditors. The auditors identify a number of other issues with the proposal, notably in terms of accountability.

When the European Commission published its proposal for the new CAP after 2020, it stressed that environment and climate objectives would be a high priority.

The auditors recognise that the proposed reform includes tools to address these objectives; but they say these are neither clearly defined nor translated into quantified targets.

"It therefore remains unclear how a greener CAP could be assessed or measured. In addition, the Commission’s estimate of the CAP’s contribution to EU climate change objectives appears unrealistic," say the auditors.

Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness said the court is critical of the direct payment system linked to land as a means of delivering for the environment and for income support, but fails to suggest alternatives.

“We need farmers on the ground to deliver on the environmental and climate objectives and they need adequate incomes to remain on farms.”

She said direct payments are vital for many farmers and without them they would not be able to continue farming.

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“The lack of young people in agriculture is further evidence that the farm income situation is not conducive to encouraging young people to farm and they see better opportunities elsewhere.

“Indeed the current system may also be limiting the access of young people to farming,” she said.

Ms McGuinness said the EU has moved from price support in the distant past, to production linked payments to land based payments, which many regard as important for environment delivery and income support.

“The proposed shift in emphasis from compliance to performance has been welcomed by the auditors and this is positive.

“Their call for more incentives for performance and objectives linked to outputs, results and impacts is also welcome. However, the CAP budget is facing cuts.

“Asking farmers to do more with less is a big ask, when there are so many different and sometimes competing demands,” she said.

And she said it’s regrettably that the court sees the proposals as falling short of the EU’s ambitions for a greener and more robust performance-based approach.

“As I read the CAP proposal, the entire focus of the reforms is on extra environment and climate conditionality, eco-schemes that go beyond that, and rural development measures that are a further step above what’s being done currently.

“It’s a demanding reform for farmers,” she said.

The Commission’s estimate of the CAP’s contribution to EU climate change objectives are also criticised by the auditors saying it “appears unrealistic”.

“It is the job of auditors to audit. The stance they have taken is puzzling,” Ms McGuinness said.

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