MEPs call for fairer CAP funding across the EU and within member states
- No to renationalisation of the EU farm policy and cuts to its budget
- Farming activities in all member states to be subject to same EU high standards
- Further measures to attract new entrants and to help farmers deal with crises
The post-2020 EU farm policy must be smarter, simpler, fairer and more sustainable, but also well financed and truly common to continue deliver food security throughout the EU.
This was the main message of the non-legislative resolution the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee approved on Wednesday by 32 votes in favour to five against, with six abstentions. The adopted text, which comes as MEPs’ response to the EU Commission’s Communication on the Future of Food and Farming, seeks to influence the upcoming legislation on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for after 2020.
More flexibility but no re-nationalisation of the CAP
MEPs recognise that EU member states should enjoy more flexibility to adapt the farming policy to their needs but reject any renationalisation of the CAP, which could, they say, distort the competition on the single market. The EU farm policy must rest on a common set of objectives, rules, tools and checks. On this basis, member states should design their national strategies and pick actions and tools they feel are best suited for them, says the approved text.
While the future EU farming policy should foster performance rather than compliance, farming activities in all member states should be subject to the same high EU standards and their breach should trigger similar penalties, MEPs say.
Proper and fairly distributed funding for modernized policy
Making EU farms more sustainable and fully integrated into the circular economy, fostering innovation, research and smart practices should be among the new CAP’s top priorities, say MEPs. To this end, the EU farm policy must be sufficiently funded, which means maintaining the CAP budget at its current level as a minimum, they argue.
The Agriculture committee also wants:
- to maintain the two-pillar structure of the CAP with direct payments, greening and market measures in the first pillar and rural development in the second pillar,
- direct payments to continue to be fully financed from the EU budget,
- more money for the second pillar to help invigorate rural areas,
- new EU method to calculate direct payments by 2030 to phase out historical support criteria and support more those who deliver additional public goods,
- more efficient ways to ensure that EU support goes to genuine farmers,
- less money for larger farms with a mandatory EU ceiling,
- fairer distribution of EU funds among member states, considering amounts received from both pillars and differences e.g. in production costs or purchasing power,
- voluntary coupled support, which member states can grant to their particularly important ailing sectors, to be used also to promote strategically important production, e.g. protein crops, or to compensate for the effects of free trade deals.
Boosting support for young and new farmers
To introduce fresh blood into the ageing farming sector, the Agriculture Committee wants to maintain young farmers’ top-ups and support them with further actions. For instance, member states should be obliged to offer EU co-funded measures to help new entrants set themselves up and financial instruments to ease their access to capital. They should also do a better job in cutting a red tape or facilitating access to land for new farmers.
Better-targeted environmental measures
Agriculture Committee wants to maintain the mandatory greening measures, which link direct payments with actions to protect the environment, but made them less bureaucratic and more result-oriented. The co-called agri-environment-climate measures currently offered by member states on a voluntary basis to farmers who wish do to more, should be simplified and better targeted. Member states should also set up a new simple scheme to incentivise farmers’ transition to environmentally sustainable practices.
Stronger farmers to better deal with crises
The future CAP should provide prompter support to farmers hit by income and price volatility, increase market transparency by extending EU milk, meat, sugar and crops market observatories to other sectors, ease their access to risk management and stabilisation tools and better equip them to combat unfair trading practices in the food supply chain, say MEPs.
They also want to turn the crisis reserve mechanism into a real independent fund and to maintain existing provisions from the so-called Omnibus regulation that allow farmers to collectively negotiate delivery contracts and plan production.
Trade deals to respect EU standards and exclude sensitive sectors
MEPs argue that all trade deals should respect EU sanitary, phyto-sanitary, animal welfare, environmental and societal standards and must not weaken them. They suggest excluding most sensitive sectors from trade negotiations and for the rest insist on reinforcing current promotion measures for EU foodstuffs abroad.
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