PURPOSE: to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2013 (horizontal Regulation).
PROPOSED ACT: Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council.
BACKGROUND: the Commission presents a set of regulations laying down the legislative framework for the CAP in the period 2014-2020. The current reform proposals are based on the Communication on the CAP towards 2020 that outlined broad policy options in order to respond to the future challenges for agriculture and rural areas and to meet the objectives set for the CAP, namely (1) viable food production; (2) sustainable management of natural resources and climate action; and (3) balanced territorial development.
A common theme that has emerged throughout this process is the need to promote resource efficiency with a view to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for EU agriculture and rural areas in line with the Europe 2020 strategy, keeping the structure of the CAP around two pillars that use complementary instruments in pursuit of the same objectives.
The framework set out in the Commission proposal for the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020 (MFF) proposal foresees that the CAP should maintain its two-pillar structure with the budget for each pillar maintained in nominal terms at its 2013 level and with a clear focus on delivering results on the key EU priorities.
On this basis, the main elements of the legislative framework for the CAP during the period 2014-2020 are set out in the following regulations:
The rural development regulation builds on the proposal presented by the Commission on 6 October 2011 that sets out common rules for all funds operating under a Common Strategic Framework. A regulation will follow on the scheme for most deprived persons, for which funding is now placed under a different heading of the MFF.
In addition, new rules on the publication of information on beneficiaries taking account of the objections expressed by the Court of Justice of the European Union are also under preparation with a view to finding the most appropriate way to reconcile beneficiaries' right to protection of personal data with the principle of transparency.
IMPACT ASSESSMENT: the three scenarios elaborated in the impact assessment are:
The impact assessment concludes that the integration scenario is the most balanced in progressively aligning the CAP with the EU's strategic objectives. It will also be essential to develop an evaluation framework to measure the performance of the CAP with a common set of indicators linked to policy objectives.
LEGAL BASIS: Article 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
CONTENT: in the light of the importance of future challenges for food security, the environment and territorial balance, the CAP remains a policy of strategic importance to ensure the most effective response to the policy challenges and the most efficient use of budgetary resources.
The main elements of the proposal are as follows:
It is proposed to maintain the current structure of instruments in two pillars where Member States have more leeway to tailor solutions to their local specificities and also co-finance Pillar II.
The new European Innovation Partnership and risk management toolkit are also placed within Pillar II. At the same time the policy will be better aligned with the Europe 2020 strategy (including a common framework with other EU funds) and a number of improvements and simplification elements introduced.
In addition to financing provisions, the horizontal regulation brings together relevant rules for all instruments, such as provisions on cross compliance, checks and penalties. As a result, the regulation now lays down rules on financing, the farm advisory system, management and control systems, cross compliance and clearance of accounts.
Cross compliance: the current rules were reviewed with a view to simplification, strengthening the climate change dimension within GAEC and ensuring consistency with the provisions of greening and of relevant environmental measures offered under rural development.
Paying agencies: the proposal foresees reducing the number of paying agencies and reinforcing the role of the coordinating body. This will render the system more transparent and less burdensome for both national administrations and the Commission services. There will be fewer accreditations and declarations of assurance required at Member State level and the number of Commission audits can be reduced.
Management and controls: the rules on management and controls will be aligned, as far as possible, for the two pillars of the CAP so as to bring legal clarity and harmonised procedures. Moreover, the regulation foresees empowering the Commission to allow for a reduction of the number of on-the-spot checks for Member States with properly functioning control systems and low error rates.
Lastly, the regulation provides the basis for a common monitoring and evaluation framework to measure the performance of the CAP during the next period.
BUDGETARY IMPLICATION: in current prices, it is proposed that the CAP should focus on its core activities with EUR 317.2 billion allocated to Pillar I and EUR 101.2 billion to Pillar II over the 2014-2020 period.
The Pillar I and Pillar II funding is complemented by additional funding of EUR 17.1 billion consisting of:
The total budget to EUR 435.6 billion over the 2014-2020 period.
Distribution of support among Member States: it is proposed that all Member States with direct payments below 90% of the EU average will see one third of this gap closed. The national ceilings in the direct payments regulation are calculated on this basis.
Rural development aid: this is based on objective criteria linked to the policy objectives taking into account the current distribution. As is the case today, less developed regions should continue to benefit from higher co-financing rates, which will also apply to certain measures such as knowledge transfer, producer groups, cooperation and Leader.
Lastly, some flexibility for transfers between pillars is introduced (up to 5% of direct payments): from Pillar I to Pillar II to allow Member States to reinforce their rural development policy, and from Pillar II to Pillar I for those Member States where the level of direct payments remains below 90% of the EU average.
DELEGATED ACTS: the proposal contains provisions empowering the Commission to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.