Procedure : 2009/0011(CNS)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0259/2009

Texts tabled :

A6-0259/2009

Debates :

PV 06/05/2009 - 2
CRE 06/05/2009 - 2

Votes :

PV 06/05/2009 - 4.5
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2009)0352

REPORT     *
PDF 230kWORD 374k
14.4.2009
PE 421.192v02-00 A6-0259/2009

on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

(COM(2009)0038 – C6‑0051/2009 – 2009/0011(CNS))

Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

Rapporteur: Petya Stavreva

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Budgets
 OPINION of the Committee on Regional Development
 PROCEDURE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

(COM(2009)0038 – C6‑0051/2009 – 2009/0011(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2009)0038),

–   having regard to Articles 36 and 37 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6‑0051/2009),

–   having regard to Rule 51 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinions of the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Budgets (A6‑0000/2009),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Acknowledges that there are uncertainties concerning the availability of margins under heading 2; emphasises that the financing of the economic recovery plan should not put at risk future needs within that category of expenditure; expresses its preference for using the margins of the budget years that are at their closure;

3.  Recalls that the annual amount will be decided within the annual budgetary procedure, in accordance with the provisions of point 38 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006(1);

4.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, pursuant to Article 250(2) of the EC Treaty;

5.  Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

6.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to amend the Commission proposal substantially;

7.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission.

Amendment  1

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 1 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(1a) Financing of the European economic recovery plan should be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management1.

 

____________

1OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1

Amendment  2

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 1 b (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(1b) The current margins in heading 2 cannot be taken for granted and any agreement on the economic recovery plan should not put at risk future needs within any category of expenditure.

Amendment  3

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 2

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(2) Of the above amount, EUR 1.5 billion should be made available to all Member States via the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) with a view to developing broadband internet in rural areas and to strengthening the operations related to the priorities laid down in Article 16a(1)(a) to (f) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 (hereinafter "new challenges").

(2) Of the above amount, EUR 1 020 million should be made available to all Member States via the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) with a view to developing broadband internet in rural areas and to strengthening the operations related to the priorities laid down in Article 16a(1)(a) to (f) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 (hereinafter "new challenges"). Of this amount, EUR 850 million should be available in 2009, while EUR 170 million should be secured through a compensation mechanism in the context of the conciliation on the 2010 budget and should be available in 2010.

Amendment                4

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 2 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(2a) The budgetary authority increased the 2009 budget line for rural development by EUR 249 840 000. These additional funds should be made available for the measures financed under the EAFRD in the European Economic Recovery Plan.

Justification

On the incentive of the European Parliament, the budgetary authority increased the 2009 budget line for rural development by EUR 250 million, ring fencing these funds for activities related to climate change (see AM 0371 on line 05 04 05 01 as adopted by the European Parliament on 18 December 2008). In the context of the current reprogramming, these additional funds should be made available.

Amendment  5

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 4

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(4) In order to ensure that the breakdown of the additional Community contribution in each Member State is used consistently with the objectives of the two policy packages (new challenges and broadband internet), Member States should specify in their national strategy plans the indicative amount, resulting from the compulsory modulation together with the unused funds generated under Article 136 of Regulation (EC) No … and the increase of the global commitments as laid down by Council Decision 2006/493/EC as amended by Decision ……. These amounts will be devoted to broadband internet infrastructure in rural areas on the one hand and to the "new challenges" on the other.

(4) In order to ensure that the breakdown of the additional Community contribution in each Member State is used consistently with the objectives of the two policy packages (new challenges and broadband internet), Member States should specify in their national strategy plans the indicative amount, resulting from the compulsory modulation together with the unused funds generated under Article 136 of Regulation (EC) No … and the increase of the global commitments as laid down by Council Decision 2006/493/EC as amended by Decision ……. These amounts will be devoted to broadband internet infrastructure in rural areas, to the "new challenges", and to other measures aimed at improving take-up of the funds and creating new jobs.

Justification

Not all Member States have the same problems, and a degree of flexibility is needed to ensure maximum utilisation of these funds.

Amendment  6

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 4 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(4a) In order to increase the take-up of their programmes, Member States may use the additional resources for a guarantee and loan fund.

Justification

The Commission proposal is part of the European Economic Recovery Plan, which focuses on priority action to enable European economies to adjust rapidly to the current challenges. It is necessary to give Member States the option to the funds for loans and credit guarantees, which would enable rural stakeholders to launch investments, thus increasing the take-up of the programmes.

Amendment  7

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 6

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(6) The Conclusions of the European Council of 12 December 2008 record the European Council's supports under the EERP, in particular, developing broadband internet, including in areas that are poorly served. Because rural areas often suffer from insufficient internet access, support for broadband infrastructures in rural areas should be strengthened under the support of EAFRD. Given the importance of this priority, Member States should provide in their programmes for operations related to this priority by the end of 2009. A list of types of operations related to broadband infrastructures should be established in order to allow Member States to identify the relevant operations in the context of the legal framework for rural development.

(6) The Conclusions of the European Council of 12 December 2008 record the European Council's supports under the EERP, in particular, developing broadband internet, including in areas that are poorly served. Because rural areas often suffer from insufficient internet access, support for broadband infrastructures and related facilities in rural areas should be strengthened under the support of EAFRD. Given the importance of this priority, Member States should provide in their programmes for operations related to this priority by the end of 2009. A list of types of operations related to broadband infrastructures and facilities should be established in order to allow Member States to identify the relevant operations in the context of the legal framework for rural development.

Justification

Given the economic realities in many rural areas, not all citizens would be able to profit from private access to broadband infrastructure. In addition to the proposed infrastructure operations, Member States should therefore have the option to support public internet facilities in rural communities (e.g. in public libraries or town halls). This option would be fully in line with the spirit of Article 56 on the provision of basic services for the economy and rural population. Training and software should, however, be excluded.

Amendment  8

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 10

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(10) Rural areas often lack broadband infrastructure both small and larger scale. The latter may be crucial for serving less accessible rural areas. In order to ensure the most effective use of available resources and to allow a substantive development of the broadband internet in rural areas, the pertinent operations should be considered eligible without limitation in the size of the related infrastructure. Therefore, the existing limitation in size for infrastructure in basic services for economy and rural population should not apply to the operations related to broadband infrastructures.

(10) Rural areas often lack broadband infrastructure both small and larger scale. The latter are crucial for serving less accessible rural areas such as islands and mountain regions. In order to ensure the most effective use of available resources and existing infrastructure, and to allow a substantive development of the broadband internet and facilities in rural areas, the pertinent operations should be considered eligible without limitation in the size of the related active or passive infrastructure or part thereof. Therefore, the existing limitation in size for infrastructure in basic services for economy and rural population should not apply to the operations related to broadband infrastructures.

Justification

The special geomorphologic characteristics of these areas place them at a disadvantage regarding access to goods and services and the distribution thereof. Under a previous resolution by the European Parliament's Committee on Transport (A5-0188/2003), the less-favoured regions of Europe are defined as being principally made up of such areas.

Amendment  9

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 11 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(11a) Given the need for rapid reaction to the current economic crisis, it is appropriate to provide for payments which can be made in budget year 2009.

Justification

The financial table annexed to the Commission proposal indicates that the full amount of EUR 1,5 billion is committed in 2009, but that payments are executed only during the budgetary years 2010 and 2011. Given the need for rapid reaction to the current economic crisis, it is appropriate to foresee payments which can be executed already in budget year 2009. This approach is in line with the Presidency conclusions of the European Council from 12 December 2008, aiming at "enabling our economies to adjust more rapidly to current challenges".

Amendment  10

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 13 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(13a) Member States should make sure that specific information is available to regional and local authorities and potential beneficiaries on the new opportunities offered by the revised rural development programmes.

Justification

Since the new priorities of the rural development, especially regarding the broadband infrastructure and facilities, bring some substantial modifications to the rural development programmes, specific information should be provided to the general public and to the regional and local authorities responsible for implementing these new measures.

Amendment  11

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 13 b (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(13b) Special measures for the provision of educational and training courses on the use of broadband infrastructures and facilities in rural communities should be established, with special attention to the vocational training of agricultural specialists, whose practical skills could then be utilised. In that respect, stimulation of the research sector should be considered a priority.

Amendment  12

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 3

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 16a – paragraph 1 – point g

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(g) broadband internet infrastructure in rural areas.

(g) broadband internet infrastructure in rural areas and facilities for public Internet access in rural communities;

Justification

Biorąc pod uwagę realia gospodarcze na wielu obszarach wiejskich, nie wszyscy obywatele będą mogli korzystać z prywatnego dostępu do szerokopasmowego Internetu. Obok zaproponowanych działań związanych z infrastrukturą państwa członkowskie powinny zatem mieć możliwość wspierania publicznych urządzeń dostępu do Internetu we wspólnotach wiejskich (np. w księgarniach publicznych lub w urzędach miejskich). Taka opcja byłaby w pełni zgodna z duchem art. 56 dotyczącego podstawowych usług dla gospodarki i ludności wiejskiej. Nie powinna ona jednak obejmować szkolenia i oprogramowania.

Amendment  13

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 3

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 16a – paragraph 1 – point g a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(ga) economic-crisis management in the agricultural sector, principally to provide support for infrastructures and to create a network of producers and organisations;

Amendment  14

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 3

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 16a – paragraph 1 – point g b (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(gb) measures to preserve or create jobs in rural areas;

Amendment  15

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 3

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 16a – paragraph 1 – point g c (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(gc) support measures for young farmers.

Justification

Support for young farmers will, in the medium term, facilitate an economic relaunch centred on growth in the rural economies.

Amendment  16

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 3

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 16a – paragraph 3 – point b

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(b) a table setting out, for the period from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2013, the total Community contribution for types of operations referred to in points (a) to (f) of paragraph 1 and the Community contribution for types of operations referred to in point (g) of paragraph 1.

(b) a table setting out, for the period from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2013, the total Community contribution for types of operations referred to in points (a) to (f) and (ga) to (gc) of paragraph 1 and the Community contribution for types of operations referred to in point (g) of paragraph 1.

Amendment  17

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 6 – subpoint a

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 69 – paragraph 2a

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

"2a. The part of the amount referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article resulting from the increase of the global commitments as laid down by Council Decision 2006/493/EC as amended by Decision …… shall be available as from 1 January 2009. It shall be devoted to types of operations related to priorities laid down in Article 16a(1) and it shall be spent as follows:

"2a. The part of the amount referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article resulting from the increase of the global commitments as laid down by Council Decision 2006/493/EC as amended by Decision …… as well as the amount of EUR 249 840 000 added to budget line 05 04 05 01 in budget year 2009 shall be available as from 1 January 2009. It shall be devoted to types of operations related to priorities laid down in Article 16a(1)."

(a) one third (EUR 0.5 billion) on types of operations related to priorities laid down in Article 16a(1)(a) to (f);

 

(b) two thirds (EUR 1 billion) on types of operations related to priority laid down in Article 16a(1)(g)."

 

Amendment  18

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 6 – subpoint aa (new)

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 69 – paragraph 4

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(aa) In paragraph 4, the following subparagraph is added:

 

"For the amount referred to in paragraph 2a(b), the Commission shall take into account the differences in existing broadband coverage in the Member States, particularly in areas where access is difficult, and the different needs resulting therefrom.".

Justification

Using the historical breakdown for rural development funds is not appropriate for the allocation of the specific funds dedicated to the support of broadband infrastructure. Baseline Indicator 32 on Internet take-up in rural areas (DSL), together with the data on broadband coverage expected in the upcoming Commission Communication on Broadband, could be used as indicator for differential allocation of these specific funds.

Amendment  19

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 6 – subpoint b

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 69 – paragraph 5a – subparagraph 1 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

The Commission's annual report on rural development shall contain a section specifically dealing with monitoring operations connected with the priorities listed in Article 16a(1)(g).

Justification

The purpose of this amendment is to make it possible to verify after it has begun that the accelerated procedure used for fund allocation is adequately reflected when funds are expended. The aim is to ensure that actions are fully effective and to furnish instruments suitable for ensuring the necessary coordination with similar activities financed by the Structural Funds.

Amendment  20

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 6 – subpoint b

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 69 – paragraph 5 b

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

5b. If, at the closure of the programme, the actual amount of Community contribution spent on the operations referred to in Article 16a(1) is lower than the total of the amounts referred to in paragraph 5a of this Article, the difference shall be reimbursed by the Member State to the general budget of the European Communities up to the amount by which the total allocations available for operations other than those referred to in Article 16a(1) have been exceeded.

5b. If, at the closure of the programme, the actual amount of Community contribution spent on the operations referred to in Article 16a(1) is lower than the total of the amounts referred to in paragraph 5a of this Article, the difference shall be incorporated by the Member State in its agricultural development budget up to the amount by which the total allocations available for operations other than those referred to in Article 16a(1) have been exceeded.

In addition, if, at the closure of the programme, the actual amount of Community contribution spent on the operations referred to in Article 16a(1)(a) to (f) is lower than the amount referred to in paragraph 5a of this Article for those types of operations, the difference shall be reimbursed by the Member State to the general budget of the European Communities up to the amount by which the allocations available for operations referred to in Article 16a(1)(g) have been exceeded. However, if the actual amount of Community contribution spent on the operations other than those referred to in Article 16a(1) is lower than the allocations available for those types of operations, the amount to be reimbursed shall be reduced of that difference.

 

In parallel, if at the closure of the programme, the actual amount of Community contribution spent on the operations referred to in Article 16a(1)(g) is lower than the amount referred to in paragraph 5a of this Article for those types of operations, the difference shall be reimbursed by the Member State to the general budget of the European Communities up to the amount by which the allocations available for operations referred to in Article 16a(1)(a) to (f) have been exceeded. However, if the actual amount of Community contribution spent on the operations other than those referred to in Article 16a(1) is lower than the allocations available for those types of operations, the amount to be reimbursed shall be reduced of that difference.

 

Amendment  21

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 6 – subpoint ba (new)

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 69 – paragraph 6a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(ba) The following paragraph is added:

 

"6a. From the amount referred to in paragraph 2a, EUR 250 million shall be made available for payments in budget year 2009.".

Justification

The financial table annexed to the Commission proposal indicates that the full amount of EUR 1,5 billion is committed in 2009, but that payments are executed only during the budgetary years 2010 and 2011. Given the need for rapid reaction to the current economic crisis, it is appropriate to foresee payments which can be executed already in budget year 2009. This approach is in line with the Presidency conclusions of the European Council from 12 December 2008, aiming at "enabling our economies to adjust more rapidly to current challenges".

Amendment  22

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 2 – point 6a (new)

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 69a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(6a) The following Article is inserted:

 

" Article 69a

 

Guarantee and loan funds

 

Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 69, Member States can use the amount referred to in Article 69(2a) for guarantee and loan funds. For the implementation of this Article, the provisions of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1974/2006 of 15 December 2006 laying down detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)1, and in particular Articles 50, 51 and 52 thereof, shall apply.

 

_________

1OJ L 368, 23.12.2006, p. 15."

Justification

The Commission proposal is part of the European Economic Recovery Plan, which focuses on priority action to enable European economies to adjust rapidly to the current challenges. It is necessary to give Member States the option to use the funds for loans and credit guarantees, which would enable rural stakeholders to launch investments.

Amendment  23

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 7

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 70 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

"Notwithstanding the ceilings set out in paragraph 3, the EAFRD contribution may be increased to 90 % for convergence and to 75% for non-convergence regions for the operations of the types referred to in Article 16a(1) of this Regulation, up to the amount resulting from the application of the compulsory modulation under Article 9(4) and Article 10(3) of Regulation (EC) No …, the amount referred to in Article 69(2a) of this Regulation and, as from 2011, the amounts generated under Article 136 of Regulation (EC) No ….";

"Notwithstanding the ceilings set out in paragraph 3, the EAFRD contribution may be increased to 100 % for convergence and to 75% for non-convergence regions for the operations of the types referred to in Article 16a(1) of this Regulation, up to the amount resulting from the application of the compulsory modulation under Article 9(4) and Article 10(3) of Regulation (EC) No …, the amount referred to in Article 69(2a) of this Regulation and, as from 2011, the amounts generated under Article 136 of Regulation (EC) No ….";

Justification

In view of the principle of territorial cohesion and the provisions of Article 69(4)(c) of Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005, an EAFRD contribution of up to 100% is considered appropriate for the measures referred to under Article 16a(1) of this regulation, so as to ensure a maximum contribution to the modernisation of the agricultural areas concerned.

Amendment  24

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 8a (new)

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 76 – paragraph 2 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(8a) In Article 76, the following paragraph is added:

 

"2a. Member States shall provide specific information with regard to the new priorities outlined in Article 16a. This information shall be provided for the benefit of regional and local authorities and potential beneficiaries of the measures.".

Justification

Since the new priorities of the rural development, especially regarding the broadband infrastructure and facilities, bring some substantial modifications to the rural development programmes, specific information should be provided to the general public and to the regional and local authorities responsible for implementing these new measures.

Amendment  25

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Annex

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Annex III – Title

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

List with types of operations related to the priority under Article 16a(1)(g)

Indicative list with types of operations related to the priority under Article 16a(1)(g)

Justification

It is considered appropriate to give the Member States the flexibility necessary to enable them to support operations under Article 16a(1)(g) in addition to those listed in Annex III.

Amendment  26

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Annex

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Annex III – column 1 – line 1

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Creation of new broadband infrastructure including backhaul facilities (e.g. fixed, terrestrial wireless, satellite-based or combination of technologies)

Creation of new broadband infrastructure including backhaul facilities and ground equipment (e.g. fixed, terrestrial wireless, satellite-based or combination of technologies) and other necessary forms of support (e.g. installation and maintenance)

Amendment  27

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Annex

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Annex III – line 3 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

Providing public access to broadband facilities

 

Article 56: basic services for the economy and rural population

Justification

Given the economic realities in many rural areas, not all citizens would be able to profit from private access to broadband infrastructure. In addition to the proposed infrastructure operations, Member States should therefore have the option to support public internet facilities in rural communities (e.g. in public libraries or town halls). This option would be fully in line with the spirit of Article 56 on the provision of basic services for the economy and rural population.

(1)

OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Introduction:

The European Council, at its meeting on 11 and 12 December 2008, approved a European Economic Recovery Plan (EERP), which envisages the initiation of priority action to enable the Member States' economies to adjust more rapidly to current challenges, based on an effort equivalent in total to around 1.5% of the European Union GDP (a figure amounting to around EUR 200 billion). Out of this amount, EUR 1.5 billion should be made available to all Member States via the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) with a view to developing broadband internet in rural areas and to strengthening the operations related to the new challenges as defined in the context of the assessment of the 2003 midterm reform of the CAP - the "Health Check". The amount of EUR 1.5 billion should be split, with one third of it (EUR 0.5 billion) being spent on new challenges and two thirds (EUR 1 billion) being spent on developing broadband internet infrastructures in rural areas. Transfers between these two sub-packages are not allowed.

The Commission proposal should establish the legal framework to allow Member States to use the above mentioned amounts.

In order to make these additional resources available as Community support for rural development under the EERP, Member States should revise their rural development programmes by 30 June 2009.

With regard to broadband, Member States should provide in their national programmes for operations related to broadband infrastructure. In order to ensure a substantive development of broadband internet in rural areas the Commission proposes that operations related to broadband infrastructure should be considered eligible without limitation in the size of the related infrastructure as opposed to the existing limitation in size for infrastructure in basic services for economy and rural population.

In Annex III of the proposal the Commission provides an exhaustive list of types of operations related to broadband infrastructure such as creation of new broadband infrastructure, upgrade of the existing broadband infrastructure, laying down passive broadband infrastructure.

With regard to new challenges, Member States should provide in their rural development programmes for types of operations related to the new challenges by 30 June 2009.

The Commission proposal exceptionally allows for increase by 10% of the co -financing rates for the budget year 2009. Member States should however respect the co-financing ceilings over the whole programming period, meaning that they will have to increase their part of co-financing in the remaining years of the programming period.

The Commission proposes higher co-financing rates for measures linked to the new challenges and broadband infrastructure. According to the Commission proposal the EAFRD should ensure 90% of the co-financing for convergence regions and 75% for non-convergence regions. Thus, for the year 2009 the co-financing for convergence regions can go up to 100%.

The Rapporteur welcomes the Commission proposal and believes that it should allow for a rapid response to the current economic crisis.

Main issues raised by the Rapporteur:

EUR 250 million to be made available for activities linked to the new challenges

By an amendment to the Budget 2009 the European Parliament and the Council increased the 2009 budget line for rural development by 250 million, ring fencing these funds for rural development in the context of climate change (see AM 0371 on line 05 04 05 01 as adopted by the European Parliament on 18 December 2008). The Commission has refused to manage these additional funds, arguing that it would be inappropriate to modify all the rural development programmes.

The Rapporteur believes that the current Commission proposal is an opportunity to make these funds, which are already available in the Budget 2009, executable. In the context of the current reprogramming, the Rapporteur proposes that these funds should be made available for activities related to the priorities as defined in the "Health Check" of the CAP.

Payments in budget year 2009

The financial table annexed to the Commission proposal indicates that the full amount of EUR 1,5 billion is committed in 2009, but that payments are executed only during the budgetary years 2010 and 2011.

The Rapporteur believes that the need for rapid reaction to the current economic crisis requires foreseeing payments which can be executed already in budget year 2009.

Loan and credit guarantee funds

A major issue in the current economic crisis is the reduction in the general availability of loans and the tightening of the conditions required to obtain credit from the banks. The Rapporteur therefore proposes that the Member States should have the option to use the funds made available for loans and credit guarantees, which would enable rural stakeholders to launch investments in difficult times.

Providing public access to broadband internet facilities

Due to dispread populations and high costs in some rural communities, not all citizens would be able to have private access to broadband infrastructure.

The Rapporteur advocates therefore that in addition to the proposed infrastructure operations, Member States should have the option to support public internet facilities in rural communities such as in public libraries or town halls. Public support however should not be used for training and software.

Information to local authorities and potential beneficiaries of the measures

The current Commission proposal will bring some substantial modifications to the rural development programmes of the Member States and in particular with regard to the types of operations related to the new "Health check" challenges and broadband infrastructure. The Rapporteur proposes therefore that specific information should be provided to the general public and to local authorities responsible for implementing theses new measures.

Taking into account the differences in existing broadband coverage in the Member States

In order to ensure the most effective use of the available resources and to allow a substantive development of the broadband internet in rural areas the Rapporteur believes that the Commission shall refer to the differences in existing broadband coverage in the Member States as indicator for differential allocation of these funds.


OPINION of the Committee on Budgets (30.3.2009)

for the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

(COM(2009)0038 – C6‑0051/2009 – 2009/0011(CNS))

Rapporteur: Vicente Miguel Garcés Ramón

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

The proposal is part of the European Economic Recovery Plan launched in November 2008 and endorsed by the European Council on 11-12 December 2008, with a total amount of EUR 200 billion, most of it (EUR 170 billion) at Member State level (coordinated, however, by the EU). About EUR 30 billion will be mobilised by the EU and EIB budgets, out of which EUR 5 billion of 'new investment' have been suggested for an Energy package (EUR 3.5 billion - report in ITRE Committee) and for the EAFRD (EUR 1.5 billion - report in AGRI Committee).

The Commission proposes that, of the additional EUR 1.5 billion, EUR 1 billion should be devoted to broadband infrastructure and EUR 500 million to action on climate change, renewable energies, biodiversity and dairy sector restructuring, changing the eligibility criteria for funding under Regulation No 1698/2005.(1)

At the time when this opinion was being put to the vote, the European Council of 19-20 March 2009 reduced the sum for the agricultural part to EUR 1.02 billion while raising that for the energy part to EUR 3.98 billion. The Council further modified the Commission's proposal to commit the appropriations in their entirety in 2009, splitting them between 2009 (600 million) and 2010 (420 million).

The Commission will draw up a proposal for an amending budget to be submitted together with the remaining instruments once the legal bases have been established.

In addition, the commitment appropriations currently provided for under the heading 05 04 05 01, 'Rural development programmes' (2009 budget), amount to EUR 13.623 billion, by comparison with EUR 9.135 billion in payments. This sum was allocated to the 2009 budget thanks to an amendment by Parliament increasing funding for that heading by EUR 249.84 million.

In view of the above, your rapporteur has tabled the following amendments:

AMENDMENTS

Amendment  1

Draft legislative resolution

Paragraph 1 a (new)

Draft legislative resolution

Amendment

 

1a. Considers that the reference amount indicated in the legislative proposal is compatible with the ceiling of Heading 2 of the current multi-annual financial framework 2007-2013;

Justification

This amendment aims to recall the ongoing mid-term review of the multi-annual financial framework 2007-2013 and the CAP health check.

Amendment  2

Draft legislative resolution

Paragraph 1 b (new)

Draft legislative resolution

Amendment

 

1b. Acknowledges that there are uncertainties concerning the availability of margins under heading 2; emphasises that the financing of the economic recovery plan should not put at risk future needs within that category of expenditure; expresses its preference for using the margins of the budget years that are at their closure;

Amendment  3

Draft legislative resolution

Paragraph 1 c (new)

Draft legislative resolution

Amendment

 

1c. Recalls that the annual amount will be decided within the annual budgetary procedure, in accordance with the provisions of Point 38 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006(2);

Justification

This amendment aims to recall that the financial envelope proposed is also subject to an agreement within the annual budget procedure (non-compulsory expenditure!).

Amendment  4

Proposal for a regulation - amending act

Recital 2 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(2a) The budgetary authority has increased the 2009 budget line for rural development programmes by EUR 249 840 000 in commitment appropriations. These additional funds should be made available for activities linked to new challenges.

Justification

On initiative of the European Parliament, the budgetary authority increased the 2009 budget line for rural development by EUR 249,84 million, foreseen these funds for activities related to climate change (see AM 0371 on line 05 04 05 01 as adopted by the European Parliament on 18 December 2008). These additional funds should be made available for activities linked to the priorities defined in the Health Check of the CAP.

Amendment  5

Proposal for a regulation - amending act

Article 1 - point 6 - point a

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 69 - paragraph 2a

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

"2a. The part of the amount referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article resulting from the increase of the global commitments as laid down by Council Decision 2006/493/EC as amended by Decision …… shall be available as from 1 January 2009. It shall be devoted to types of operations related to priorities laid down in Article 16a(1) and it shall be spent as follows:

"2a. The part of the amount referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article resulting from the increase of the global commitments as laid down by Council Decision 2006/493/EC as amended by Decision …… shall be available as from 1 January 2009. It shall be devoted to types of operations related to priorities laid down in Article 16a(1) and it shall be spent as follows:

(a) one third (EUR 0.5 billion) on types of operations related to priorities laid down in Article 16a(1)(a) to (f);

(a) one third (EUR XXX) on types of operations related to priorities laid down in Article 16a(1)(a) to (f);

(b) two thirds (EUR 1 billion) on types of operations related to priority laid down in Article 16a(1)(g)."

(b) two thirds (EUR XXX) on types of operations related to priority laid down in Article 16a(1)(g)."

PROCEDURE

Title

Support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

References

COM(2009)0038 – C6-0051/2009 – 2009/0011(CNS)

Committee responsible

AGRI

Opinion by

       Date announced in plenary

BUDG

19.2.2009

 

 

 

Rapporteur

       Date appointed

Vicente Miguel Garcés Ramón

10.2.2009

 

 

Discussed in committee

11.3.2009

30.3.2009

 

 

Date adopted

30.3.2009

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

17

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Richard James Ashworth, Reimer Böge, Simon Busuttil, Paulo Casaca, Szabolcs Fazakas, Salvador Garriga Polledo, Ingeborg Gräßle, Catherine Guy-Quint, Janusz Lewandowski, Vladimír Maňka, Mario Mauro, Gérard Onesta, Nina Škottová, László Surján, Gary Titley

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Călin Cătălin Chiriţă

(1)

Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 of 20 September 2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

(2)

OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p.1.


OPINION of the Committee on Regional Development (30.3.2009)

for the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

(COM(2009)0038 – C6‑0051/2009 – 2009/0011(CNS))

Rapporteur: Domenico Antonio Basile

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

The proposal under consideration is a prompt response by the Commission to the concerns underlying the Council's decision of 11 December 2008 to approve a European Economic Recovery Plan (EERP) containing specific measures for numerous Community and national policy sectors in order to tackle the economic and financial crisis affecting European markets since 2007.

In the rural development sector, the Commission text proposes revising relevant points of Regulation (EC) No 1698 /2005 in order to incorporate the terms of the EERP.

In particular, the Commission proposes that the sum of EUR 1.5 million be made available to all Member States via the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), to develop Internet broadband access in rural areas and to tackle the new challenges identified in the midterm assessment (completed in November 2008) of the 2003 reform of the common agricultural policy (climate change, renewable energy sources, water resources management, biodiversity).

Overall, the rapporteur fully supports the proposal, considering that these measures, if implemented quickly taking an integrated approach, will certainly be able to help turn around national economies and regenerate consumer confidence in the system.

However, in view of the obvious urgency that has characterised Community legislation and programming work at this juncture, the rapporteur considers that some additional elements should be introduced, that may help ensure that this urgency is also reflected when these measures come to be implemented in the Member States.

The amendments proposed, therefore, are intended to ensure that Member States circulate the relevant information concerning the allocation of further financial resources for actions in the rural sector to both regional authorities - so they can immediately adjust their own rural development plans - and to potential beneficiaries and stakeholders.

Moreover, it is felt that the concern expressed by the Council in line with its objective of economic recovery throughout the European Union, that opportunities for expenditure be maximised in the initial financial years, should be stressed by advocating the use of accelerated and simplified implementation procedures.

Finally, with a view to increasing transparency and the information available on the outcome for 2009-2011 and to ensure that the instruments coordinating actions financing broadband Internet infrastructure funded by the EAFRD and the Structural Funds are suitable, the Commission is asked to include a section specifically given over to verifying the results of this initiative in the annual monitoring report required for the European Rural Development Fund.

AMENDMENTS

The Committee on Regional Development calls on the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following amendments in its report:

Amendment  1

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Recital 8 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

8a. The concern for urgency in relation to implementing these actions calls for the employment of principles based on the speeding up and simplification of procedures, with a view to ensuring that amendments linked to the European Economic Recovery Plan come rapidly into force and guaranteeing their effectiveness in the current crisis situation.

To this end, appropriate circulation of information on the measures in this regulation to regional authorities and potential beneficiaries of the funds must be guaranteed in the Member States through widespread information initiatives.

Justification

The proposed amendment injects the urgent need to implement the actions into the grounds for the measure being adopted, through the requirement that potential beneficiaries be provided with appropriate and prompt information on the new initiative, on the one hand, and the adoption of accelerated and simplified implementing procedures, once again in relation to the tight time limits laid down in the measure, on the other.

Amendment  2

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 2

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 12 a – paragraph 1 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

1a. Each Member State shall consult the competent regional authorities on the specific requirements and development strategies drawn up with a view to the implementation of the national strategy plan.

Justification

In order to meet as effectively as possible the specific needs of each individual region, the competent regional authorities must be consulted. In this way, the best possible common regional development strategy can be achieved.

Amendment  3

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 3

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 16 a – paragraph 1 – introductory phrase

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

1. By 31 December 2009, Member States shall provide in their rural development programmes, in accordance with their specific needs, for types of operations having the following priorities as described in the Community strategic guidelines and specified further in the national strategy plans:

1. By 31 December 2009, Member States shall provide in their rural development programmes, following prior consultation with the competent regional authorities and in accordance with their specific needs, for types of operations having the following priorities as described in the Community strategic guidelines and specified further in the national strategy plans:

Justification

Whenever rural development strategies are drawn up, they must take account of regional development policy priorities. A common policy combining these two aspects – rural and regional development objectives – can make it possible to achieve the desired results.

Amendment  4

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 3

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 16 a – paragraph 1 - point a

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(a) climate change

(a) climate change and measures seeking to prevent soil deterioration,

Justification

Soil plays a fundamental role in the agricultural sector. The use and management of agricultural soil are of fundamental importance in helping to meet the new challenges posed by climate change, renewable energies, water scarcity and biodiversity.

Amendment  5

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 3

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 16 a – paragraph 1 - point b

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(b) renewable energies,

(b) better energy efficiency, diversification and the use of renewable energies,

Justification

See amendment 3.

Amendment  6

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 3

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 16 a – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

Operations of the type to be carried out in connection with the priorities listed in letters (a) - (f) of the first paragraph should be targeted also at achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion objectives.

Justification

See amendment 3.

Amendment   7

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 3

Regulation 1698/2005

Article 16 a – paragraph 1 - subparagraph 3

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

The revised rural development programmes related to the operations referred to in this paragraph shall be submitted to the Commission no later than 30 June 2009.

The revised rural development programmes related to the operations referred to in this paragraph and based, as regards implementation of actions, on principles of speed and simplification shall be submitted to the Commission no later than 30 June 2009.

Justification

In view of the short amount of time available to Member States to amend their national plans, widespread and prompt circulation of the new legislation is called for as well as the use of accelerated and simple procedures both for expenditure and for submission of accounts.

Amendment  8

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 3

Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005

Article 16 a – paragraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. From 1 January 2009, for types of operations referred to in paragraph 1(a) to (f) of this Article, the aid intensity rates fixed in Annex I may be increased by 10 percentage points.

2. From 1 January 2009, for types of operations referred to in paragraph 1(a) to (f) of this Article, the aid intensity rates fixed in Annex I may be increased by 10 percentage points, with a view to achieving the objective of territorial convergence within the regions of the European Union..

Justification

Development and convergence within the regions of the European Union may be accelerated by earmarking funding for measures to meet the specific needs of each individual region. Economic progress and sustainable development can only be achieved by earmarking substantial amounts for those sectors with the highest growth potential, for example energy efficiency and biodiversity.

Amendment  9

Proposal for a regulation – amending act

Article 1 – point 6 – point b

Regulation 1698/2005

Article 69 – paragraph 5 a – subparagraph 1 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

The Commission's annual report on rural development shall contain a section specifically dealing with monitoring operations connected with the priorities listed in Article 16a(g).

Justification

The purpose of this amendment is to make it possible to verify after it has begun that the accelerated procedure used for fund allocation is adequately reflected when funds are expended. The aim is to ensure that actions are fully effective and to furnish instruments suitable for ensuring the necessary coordination with similar activities financed by the Structural Funds.

PROCEDURE

Title

Support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

References

COM(2009)0038 – C6-0051/2009 – 2009/0011(CNS)

Committee responsible

AGRI

Opinion by

       Date announced in plenary

REGI

19.2.2009

 

 

 

Rapporteur

       Date appointed

Domenico Antonio Basile

9.3.2009

 

 

Discussed in committee

9.3.2009

 

 

 

Date adopted

30.3.2009

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

26

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Emmanouil Angelakas, Stavros Arnaoutakis, Rolf Berend, Victor Boştinaru, Wolfgang Bulfon, Gerardo Galeote, Gábor Harangozó, Mieczysław Edmund Janowski, Rumiana Jeleva, Gisela Kallenbach, Tunne Kelam, Evgeni Kirilov, Constanze Angela Krehl, Florencio Luque Aguilar, Sérgio Marques, Maria Petre, Elisabeth Schroedter, Catherine Stihler, Margie Sudre, Oldřich Vlasák

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Domenico Antonio Basile, Emanuel Jardim Fernandes, Samuli Pohjamo

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Dragoş Florin David, Siiri Oviir


PROCEDURE

Title

Support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

References

COM(2009)0038 – C6-0051/2009 – 2009/0011(CNS)

Date of consulting Parliament

5.2.2009

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

AGRI

19.2.2009

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)

       Date announced in plenary

BUDG

19.2.2009

ENVI

19.2.2009

ITRE

19.2.2009

REGI

19.2.2009

Not delivering opinions

       Date of decision

ENVI

16.3.2009

ITRE

11.2.2009

 

 

Rapporteur(s)

       Date appointed

Petya Stavreva

20.1.2009

 

 

Discussed in committee

17.2.2009

16.3.2009

31.3.2009

 

Date adopted

31.3.2009

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

24

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Vincenzo Aita, Peter Baco, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos, Albert Deß, Michl Ebner, Carmen Fraga Estévez, Ioannis Gklavakis, Lutz Goepel, Friedrich-Wilhelm Graefe zu Baringdorf, Elisabeth Jeggle, Heinz Kindermann, Stéphane Le Foll, Véronique Mathieu, Mairead McGuinness, Rosa Miguélez Ramos, James Nicholson, María Isabel Salinas García, Agnes Schierhuber, Willem Schuth, Czesław Adam Siekierski, Alyn Smith, Petya Stavreva, Witold Tomczak, Andrzej Tomasz Zapałowski

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Gábor Harangozó, Catherine Neris, Maria Petre

Date tabled

14.4.2009

Legal notice - Privacy policy