Parliament's rapporteurs welcomed on Wednesday adoption of Agriculture Council's general approach on the reform of the EU farm policy but stressed that in some areas tough negotiations will have to take place.
EU farm policy reform must distribute EU funding more fairly, make "greening" measures mandatory but flexible, better equip farmers to cope with market challenges and cut red tape. So says the Agriculture Committee's opening position for negotiations with EU member states, as set out in texts voted on Wednesday. This will be the first EU farm policy reform shaped by Parliament as a full co-legislator with member states.
MEPs questioned Tonio Borg intensively on his nomination to take up the Commission health and consumer protection portfolio. They urged action on delayed tobacco legislation and sought assurances on his views on women's rights and non-discrimination, in a hearing on Tuesday.
EU member states must do more to improve the welfare of animals in transit by enforcing rules, checking journey times and imposing dissuasive penalties on offenders, say Agriculture Committee MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. To shorten journeys to abattoirs, the EU should also promote the use of local ones and consider an eight-hour, EU-wide limit on journey times, they add.
Quotas for sugar beet producers must be prolonged to allow beet producers time to adapt to new market realities, and EU farm spending should be frozen in real terms for 2014-2020, said many Agriculture Committee MEPs in Tuesday's EU farm policy reform debate.
The new EU farm policy must have a decent budget to provide for healthy farming practices that deliver a secure supply of high-quality food to all EU citizens, national parliamentarians and EP Agriculture Committee MEPs agreed in Brussels on Monday.
Ideas to make direct payments for farmers fairer across the EU and simplify checks on how they spend the money were tabled by Agriculture Committee MEPs on Tuesday, as input to the post-2014 farm policy reform package. MEPs also welcomed proposals to prolong wine planting rights and sugar quotas, but said that "greening" measures should be better tailored to the needs of each Member State.
Animal welfare rules must be enforced and offenders must be punished, say agriculture MEPs in a resolution adopted on Tuesday. The wellbeing of animals is closely linked to public health and good animal husbandry helps prevent the spread of diseases, they stress.
The welfare of animals in transport must be improved, but cutting transport time to eight hours must be supplemented by other measures, such as support for local slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, upgrading transport vehicles and full and uniform control of compliance with existing rules throughout the EU, said many Agriculture Committee MEPs in a debate on Monday.
A two-year reprieve for the EU's "food for the needy" programme, on which 18 million of the EU's most deprived people rely, was backed by the Agriculture Committee on Monday. If Parliament as a whole endorses the plan to rescue the programme, it will run until the end of 2013, with a budget of up to €500 million per year.