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.

"This interparliamentary meeting is a great opportunity for the European Parliament and national parliamentarians to share their views on the EU farm policy reform. This will contribute to its democratic legitimacy", said Agriculture Committee Chair Paolo de Castro (S&D, IT), stressing that "the European Parliament is now on an equal footing with the Council" in deciding on the final shape of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

"The CAP is facing unprecedented challenges today", said Mr de Castro, referring to food security, price volatility and climate change. "Pressure on our resources was never so high. We need to make the CAP greener and more efficient and boost support for rural development so as to achieve territorial balance across the EU", he added.

Cut bureaucracy

Many national MPs welcomed the reform proposals made by EP rapporteurs on 18 and 19 June, but called on MEPs to do more to cut unnecessary bureaucracy and simplify existing rules for farmers, not least by ensuring that EU money goes to those who are "actively operating farms" and not to "golf courses."

"There must be a level playing field for all EU farmers and for this we need simple and less bureaucratic rules", said Mr De Castro, emphasising that "neither the European Parliament nor its Agriculture Committee will adopt a final position before the deal on the EU's multiannual financial framework is reached."

Flexible greening

"We are facing many challenges today but these are also opportunities. We have the tools at our disposal to react ... and we must make it possible for our farmers to use these tools" to protect the environment and make EU agriculture sustainable for the future, said René Christensen, Chair of the Danish Parliament's Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Committee and Co-chair of the interparliamentary meeting.

Greening measures are necessary but they must respect specific situations in different Member States and regions and the European Parliament should go even further to make them more flexible, many MPs said.

End "flagrant unfairness"

To boost competitiveness of EU farming and create a genuine common market within the EU, direct payments must be fairly distributed across the EU, argued many national MPs, particularly those from new Member States. They urged MEPs to put an end to "flagrant unfairness", some calling for every Member State to receive at least 80% of the average EU payment, and others demanding either equality in direct payments or the termination of the system per se.

Watch the video of the debate (link to the right).

Monday, 25 June 2012

Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

In the chair: Paolo de Castro (S&D, IT) and Czesław Adam Siekierski (EPP, PL) for the EP Agriculture Committee and René Christensen, Chair of the Danish Parliament's Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Committee