Friday 20 September 2019

Hogan's CAP reforms 'lack ambition' on climate and performance goals

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

Ciaran Moran and Claire Fox

European auditors have criticised Phil Hogan's proposed reform of CAP - saying it falls short of ambitions for a greener and more robust performance-based approach.

The former Irish government minister and European Commissioner for Agriculture has outlined a range of reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020.

But an opinion published by the European Court of Auditors identifies a number of issues with the proposal, including 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 say that these are neither clearly defined nor translated into quantified targets.

"It therefore remains unclear how a greener CAP could be assessed or measured," the auditors said.

In addition, the commission's estimate of the CAP's contribution to EU climate change objectives appears unrealistic, say the auditors.

They note that many of the proposed policy options are very similar to the current CAP.

In particular, the largest part of the budget would continue to be direct payments to farmers, based on a given amount of hectares of land owned or used. However, the auditors say this instrument is not appropriate for addressing many environmental concerns, nor is it the most efficient way of supporting viable incomes.

There is a shift from an emphasis on compliance towards a focus on performance, which the auditors welcome.

However, they consider that the proposal does not contain the necessary elements of an effective performance system.

"The new CAP would need more incentives for performance and objectives that are clearly linked to outputs, results and impacts," it says.

Another key change is the redefinition of EU eligibility for CAP payments; but given the limitations of the proposed model, this is likely to lead to a weakened assurance framework.

There will be fewer and less effective checks and audits, the auditors point out.

Mr Hogan has insisted that the CAP proposals will mean simplification and modernisation for farmers.

Meanwhile, members of the Oireachtas Climate Action Committee have hit out at the Department of Agriculture for "not being ambitious enough" when it comes to reducing agriculture emissions.

Agriculture currently accounts for more than 33pc of overall emissions in Ireland.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: "The truth is agriculture emissions are rising and there are no plans to cut them. We are not ambitious enough on what we are doing."

Irish Independent

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