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The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must remain truly common and well financed to be able to deliver, Agriculture MEPs told Commissioner Phil Hogan on Wednesday evening.

The debate followed the adoption by the Commission of the keenly awaited Communication on the Future of food and farming in the EU, which launched formal deliberations on the next CAP reform for after 2020.


“We don’t need a [CAP] revolution, we simply need to make necessary corrections”, said Albert Dess (EPP, DE) echoing what Commissioner Hogan said. But he was “a bit sceptical” over “too much of a national responsibility”. The CAP “is a Common Agricultural Policy”, Mr Dess stressed and warned against market distortion. He also insisted that the CAP must be properly funded. “The amount of what we spend is justified given what we achieve through it”, he said.


The idea to further simplify the CAP was welcomed by Eric Andrieu (S&D, FR). Subsidiarity “is a valuable idea (...) particularly when it comes to greening” but this must be a “reform without renationalising” the CAP, he said. Mr Andrieu also welcomed measures to help young farmers and said that the support to the first installation should be made “mandatory in all member states”. But he criticised lack of focus in the Communication on market-related measures.


The CAP budget must be maintained but “Brexit will have serious [budgetary] implications” and “the £50 billion” from the UK “will help only slightly”, James Nicholson (ECR, UK) said. He welcomed Phil Hogan’s “comments on Brussels’ interference” but said that “sometimes it is not Brussels but national authorities” and “the way they implement” EU rules that creates problems.


Providing additional “room for manoeuvre” for member states “is great” but “it is important to avoid distortion of competition” on the internal market, said Ulrike Müller (ALDE, DE). Unfair competition within the EU must be avoided, she stressed.


“You say the CAP is a success story - but for whom and where?” Maria Lidia Senra Rodríguez (GUE/NGL, ES) asked Commissioner Hogan. Key words missing in the Communication are “fair prices and production regulation”, she said adding that “more liberalisation and trade deals” will lead to “lower income” for farmers. She also criticised the idea that EU “needs to feed the entire World”.


“The core of the [EU’s farming] policy must remain European”, otherwise the CAP will be implemented in too many ways, warned Martin Häusling (Greens/EFA, DE). Using new technologies is fine “but it cannot be the answer to everything”, he said and called for ideas on capping direct payments for big farmers and fairer distribution of EU funding among and within member states.


“We lack a structured, consistent, long-term policy that would make us less dependent on imports”, said Marco Zullo (EFDD, IT). The Commission should not “miss the opportunity” to “build the agricultural policy for citizens” instead of “multinationals”, he insisted.


Farmers must be respected rather than be penalised and made subject to additional controls, said Philippe Loiseau (ENF, FR). He also criticised international trade deals: “if you want food security, you have to stop negotiating these agreements”, he said.


You can re-watch the entire debate here.



Procedure: Commission statement with a debate

Disclaimer: this is an informal message intended to help journalists covering the work of the European Parliament. It is neither an official press release nor a comprehensive record of proceedings.