EU leaders push decision on CAP budget back to autumn 2019

CAP reforms cannot be implemented without budget agreement

EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters
EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters

Alastair Macdonald

European Union leaders have given themselves nearly a year to agree a new long-term budget for the bloc last week, confirming that hopes of an accord before elections to the EU parliament in May are not realistic.

May had long seemed an improbable target to resolve intense disputes, with Britain, one of the major contributors, due to leave in March, and other rich western members irritated by hostility to EU policies on human rights and immigration among some ex-communist countries, which receive hefty EU subsidies.

In a statement following a debate at a summit in Brussels, the leaders call for more work in the coming months, “with a view to achieving an agreement in the European Council in autumn 2019”.

The Multiannual Financial Framework, or MFF, runs for seven years and will need to be in place in time to replace the current budget programme, which ends in December 2020.

The EU budget accounts for about 1pc of the bloc’s economic output. Some governments and the EU executive favour expanding it but that faces resistance, especially from wealthy states in the north and west which are the main contributors.

As the CAP regulations contain financial references, agreement on the overall EU budget, which is a matter for unanimous agreement by Heads of State and Government, must also take place to allow final conclusion on the CAP regulations.

The CAP draft legislative proposals are intrinsically linked to the recent proposals for the next European Multi-annual Financial Framework 2021-2027.  The MFF proposes a 5pc cut to the overall CAP budget. 

The CAP Regulations cannot be agreed in the absence of agreement on the budget as the Regulations contain financial envelopes.

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