Full text 
Procedure : 2006/2042(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0037/2007

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Debates :

PV 28/03/2007 - 21
CRE 28/03/2007 - 21

Votes :

PV 29/03/2007 - 8.14
CRE 29/03/2007 - 8.14
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


Wednesday, 28 March 2007 - Brussels OJ edition

21. The integration of new Member States in the CAP (debate)

  President. The next item is the report by Csaba Sándor Tabajdi, on behalf of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, on the integration of the new Member States into the CAP (2006/2042(INI)) (A6-0037/2007).


  Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (PSE), rapporteur.(FR) Mr President, the integration of the ten new Member States is a very complicated matter. I feel that, in my own-initiative report, I have tried to analyse the results, the consequences of integrating the ten new Member States, because we are talking, in general, about the success of integrating ten new Member States, but we need to analyse exactly what consequences this has within the various sectors.

As far as the consequences of the integration for agriculture are concerned, despite all the inconsistencies, I must say that they are very positive. This is a win-win situation. This means that the 15 old Member States have won because they have expanded their markets. They have managed to play a part in the privatisation of this sector in the new Member States. It is the producers, above all, who have won; it is the traders and agricultural manufacturers, above all, but the consequences were positive for them and the new Member States have won as well, despite all the discrimination concerning direct payments; they have won because, for two years, they have increased their agricultural subsidies by 50%. This is a major result, and we have yet to talk about price stability; we need to talk about guarantees and the single market, for example.

With regard to enlargement, there were huge fears that the new Member States would disrupt the single market. That is not the case. There has been no disruption. The safeguard clause has not had to be used. This is very important and very positive and, when it comes to the new Member States, their producers have been able to use the direct payment funds and the rural development funds, and one can say that food safety has increased.

However, at the same time there are some inconsistencies regarding the enlargement. No equal opportunities exist between the producers of the Fifteen and of the ten Member States since, last year, farmers from the new Member States received only a third of the direct payments from the Community budget. It is true that they were entitled to supplement these payments with their national budgets, but there are no equal opportunities, that much is clear. At the very outset, 25% of funding was inconsistent, too; 50% or 60% would have been fairer and more justified.

With regard to the budget, for years there has been no competition between the old and new Member States, but there is competition in the financial perspective, because the ‘cake’ is the same: there are 27 Member States sharing the same cake because of the freeze proposed by Mr Schroeder and Mr Chirac, who have frozen the Community agricultural budget.

Ladies and gentlemen, with regard to the new Member States, I believe that there are some inconsistencies regarding the reforms under way. I have already pointed out, on several occasions, not least to Mrs Fischer Boel, that, with regard to the fruit and vegetable reform and viticulture, even though historical precedents exist in this case, there is a new kind of inconsistency, a new kind of discrimination against the new Member States.

To conclude, in my report, I have tried to learn lessons regarding the future of the common agricultural policy, and I believe that what Mrs Fischer Boel is proposing, namely having national envelopes as part of the viticulture reform, would perhaps set a good example when it comes to carrying out the health check on the entire future reform, because it is clear that, where the 27 very heterogeneous Member States are concerned, we need to play the subsidiarity card – the flexibility card – more.


  Mariann Fischer Boel, Member of the Commission. Mr President, before going into the details of the report, I would like to thank Mr Tabajdi and the members of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development for this report. It is a good moment to take stock of the situation. You could say that it is a good warming-up for our discussion on the health check of the common agricultural policy.

I fully agree with the author of this report that the integration of the ten new Member States has been a win-win situation. I would like to point out three different issues. Firstly, the positive development of the income of the agricultural sector in the new Member States. I think this has been of major importance because a good income provides not only for a decent life, but also for the long-term survival of the agricultural sector. If we look at the figures for the income in the ten new Member States it has actually increased 60% over the period from 2004 to 2006 compared to the 2003 figures. If you look at the same period for the figures in the old Member States, the EU-15, it has decreased by 2%. I think that this shows clearly how the new Member States have been benefiting from their membership of the common agricultural policy. The distribution of the money hopefully meant that understanding in the rural areas of the importance of membership has become very clear.

As regards trade, an issue which was also raised by the rapporteur, it is clear that everybody has benefited from the increased internal market. Again it is a win-win situation and I hope that the trends that we have seen will also continue in the years to come.

On rural development, which is a very important issue not only in the new Member States but in the European Union as a whole, I think that the difficulties that you have mentioned in your report are related to initial teething problems. The recent figures illustrate it. All rural development payments in 2006 to the new Member States came to just over EUR 2.7 billion, an increase of 21% compared to the 2005 figures. I hope that these monies will be spent in a constructive way in the new Member States and I am optimistic about the new Member States’ ability to fully implement the programme for a new financial period from 2007 to 2013.

This brings me to the health check. Formally speaking, the implementation of the CAP reform by the new Member States is not subject to the revision clause. However, I think that we should take the opportunity in this health check to try to solve as many as possible of the common problems encountered by all 27 Member States in our discussions in 2008.

I am looking forward to very constructive cooperation with the Agriculture Committee on all these issues. It is of great mutual interest to all of us to have a very strong agricultural sector within the European Union.


  Albert Deß, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, I should like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Tabajdi, very much for the compromise that we reached together and on which his report is based. Before the accession of the ten new Member States, when I was out and about in Bavaria and the rest of Germany in my capacity as a politician responsible for agriculture, many farmers in Germany expressed fears that enlargement would have a detrimental impact on agriculture in the old EU Member States. Prices of certain agricultural products were expected to collapse. When I toured the candidate countries, the farmers there also had major reservations and fears about accession to the European Union. Today we can say that the fears in both East and West were largely unfounded.

The way in which the new Member States have been integrated into the common agricultural policy is basically positive. The stakeholders in the new Member States – as has already been mentioned – have in the main benefited from more stable markets and prices and from improved trading opportunities. The food processing industry and food wholesalers in the EU of 15 have benefited from the increased exports and huge investment opportunities in the new Member States. In the report it is stressed that so far the process of integrating the new Member States has on the whole been successful. There were severe difficulties on the fruit and vegetables market and with the unjustified import ban imposed on Polish goods by Russia and Ukraine. The Commission and the Council are asked to respond more quickly to the specific problems of the new Member States. It is stressed in the report that biomass and bioenergy production will play an important role in the future of the agricultural sector in the EU. The Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats supports the compromise that has been negotiated, despite having certain reservations because of some of the financial implications.


  Bogdan Golik, on behalf of the PSE Group. (PL) Mr President, Mr President, in my view the time of this session speaks volumes about the EU’s relations with the new Member States. It is ten to midnight. We are discussing the important issue of the new Member States joining the common agricultural policy, which is the European Union’s only common policy.

Above all, I would like to congratulate Csaba Tabajdi for his initiative in preparing a report on the effects of the inclusion of the new Member States in the CAP, and for his many months of hard work on a subject which is so important to us, the new Member States.

The experience of our first years of membership has revealed many positive aspects of integration, which include more dynamic social change in rural areas, better quality and safer food, improved animal welfare, and increased exports. However, we must bear in mind that, in the years preceding their accession to the EU, the agricultural sector in the new Member States operated on a completely different basis from the farming sector in the old Fifteen, with no direct subsidies or any instruments guaranteeing stable production.

This makes it all the more unfair and unreasonable that the decision has been made to allocate lower rates of direct subsidies to the new Member States than are awarded to the farmers of the old European Union, while the inadequate production quotas have negative consequences for the competitiveness of farmers in the new Member States, but not in the old ones.

For this reason it is important that, when we assess the present form, and discuss the future of the European model of agriculture in 2008-2009, we concentrate in particular on trying to bring them more in line with the realities and the expectations of society in these countries.


  Tchetin Kazak, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to begin by thanking Mr Tabajdi for the excellent work he has done as rapporteur.

I read the content of his report with great interest: I found it very instructive for my country, Bulgaria, and indicative, too, of the difficulties that the ten new Member States have had to face upon coming into contact, for the first time, with the CAP.

During the pre-accession period, Bulgaria, like the ten other acceding countries, made significant efforts to transpose the acquis communautaire and to establish the institutional framework needed to apply the CAP. The partnership programmes funded by the European Union were of precious help in the achievement of that objective.

However, it must be said that the farmers and the rural society in Bulgaria are unprepared for the new possibilities and challenges that have emerged. The European Union has granted aid to develop the agricultural sector in my country. However, the complexity of the requirements that had to be met and the delay in decision-making have meant that the start of the SAPARD programme has been considerably delayed and that a substantial amount of the allocations will be used only after accession.

With the help of direct payments, rural development measures and State aid agricultural schemes, Bulgaria, like the ten new Member States, can establish a system that is better suited to the development of its agriculture and rural society. However, certain rules need to be simplified further.

Finally, we, in Bulgaria, as in the ten other countries, regret the gradual way in which the direct payments are being introduced. However, we obviously do not want to undermine them, because this is an irrevocable commitment, laid down in the accession treaty.

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I suggest that you adopt this own-initiative report by Mr Tabajdi, for I believe that it is very objective, that it takes a benevolent approach to accounting for the difficulties faced by the ten new Member States and that it issues recommendations that are designed to help reform the CAP more effectively.


  Janusz Wojciechowski, on behalf of the UEN Group. (PL) Mr President, Mr Tabajdi’s report has provided a rosy view of the effects of EU enlargement. Although I agree that enlargement has indeed had some positive effects for the new as well as the old Member States, there is another, less optimistic side to the coin.

The European Union we live in is not the same as the one we joined. We joined a Union which was a kind of farming fan club, whereas now it is a Union that is phasing out farming, step by step. All of the so-called reforms of the sugar, fruit, vegetable, wine or tobacco markets have one purpose only – to encourage farmers to produce less, or preferably nothing at all. Fewer agricultural products result in fewer problems for the bureaucrats.

We joined the European Union hoping that, together with the old Member States, we would develop our agricultural sector. Instead, we find ourselves in a Union where, together with the old Member States, we are starting to wind it down. We are party to a short-sighted policy which is damaging European food security. This policy must be changed, as Europe will become hungry, and a hungry Europe will not be capable of further integration.


  Dumitru Gheorghe Mircea Coşea, în numele grupului ITS. – Domnule Preşedinte, doamnă comisar, apreciez raportul domnului Tabajdi, deşi acesta nu cuprinde niciun aspect legat de o ţară mai nouă, ca de exemplu România. Este un raport care reprezintă o lecţie pentru noile state membre şi aş vrea să subliniez un lucru care ne interesează foarte mult, şi anume că politica agricolă comună ar trebui să fie mai flexibilă în ceea ce priveşte specificul şi trăsăturile acestor două noi ţări membre, România şi Bulgaria.

România are o tradiţie în agricultură, dar şi moşteniri comuniste care o fac să aibă un mare decalaj faţă de agricultura europeană. De aceea, cred că dacă această politică agricolă comună europeană s-ar apleca mai mult asupra trăsăturilor specifice României, am putea să eliminăm mai repede aceste decalaje.

Sugerez doamnei comisar, precum şi autorului acestui raport, pe care îl felicit încă o dată, să se aplece asupra a trei propuneri pe care doresc să le fac: în primul rând, să se acorde o mai mare atenţie organizaţiilor de agricultori şi patronale din agricultură, deoarece în aceste noi ţări membre, ele sunt încă la început. În al doilea rând şi foarte important, să se acorde atenţie prevenirii riscurilor în agricultură, riscuri care sunt în ultimul timp majore din punct de vedere climatic, al catastrofelor naturale şi chiar al unor disfuncţionalităţi ale pieţei. Şi, în al treilea rând, un lucru important este sprijinirea proiectelor de dezvoltare rurală, mai ales în zonele frontaliere, pentru că avem de învăţat de la ţările care au o tradiţie mai îndelungată decât noi în cooperare.


  Peter Baco (NI). – (SK) I appreciate the initiative and the enormous amount of work carried out by the rapporteur. The report openly highlights the discriminatory effect of the common agricultural policy on agriculture in the new Member States. However, in the interest of ensuring the passage of this report, its wording has been drafted to suggest something bordering on an idyll. The argument that both old and new Member States should be happy, since the new Member States are receiving more funding and the old ones have gained a major share of their food market in return, simply does not hold water. The fact that part of the European Union is consistently declining while the rest is expanding contravenes not only the letter but also the spirit of the common agricultural policy and principles of the European Union. During the accession process the agriculture sectors of the EU-15 were growing, while in the new Member States agricultural output had declined by one-third. It is not true that this was due to the failure of farmers in the new Member States to adapt to the market. It was due to political reasons. The worst thing is that this decimation of agriculture in the new Member States has in fact been imbedded forever in the form of the so-called historical reference points that have been used to set support parameters for the new Member States in a discriminatory fashion.

The conflicting effects of the common agricultural policy on the old and new Member States have also persisted following Slovakia’s EU accession. This can be seen in the effects of the most recently adopted commodity reforms, and is also demonstrated by the dramatic increase in food imports to the new Member States. Last year Slovakia alone saw a 60% increase in food imports compared to the year before. Moreover, the 2020 scenario projects that the new Member States will remain a basis of raw materials for the production of feed for animal husbandry and for biomass in the energy sector. The added value under this scenario will be created in the EU-15.

The message of the report is therefore clear. Commissioner, I wish you would see it in that light, not in the way you demonstrated in your statement. It is necessary to reform internal competition between the old and new Member States within the Union in order to yield genuinely common and uniform procedures for all EU states and an increase in the global competitiveness of the EU agricultural sector. We should primarily focus on lower costs, higher quality and effective marketing.


  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE-DE). – (PL) Mr President, three years have already passed since the major enlargement of the European Union involving ten new Member States, all of which have a highly differentiated agriculture, which has had to be restructured at a very high cost.

As far as agriculture is concerned, the European Union did not propose good conditions for the integration of the new Member States. The production quotas are too low, and direct subsidies started at 25% of what the old Fifteen were getting.

Unfavourable changes to the CAP were introduced in June 2003 in Luxembourg, at a meeting of agricultural ministers of the old Fifteen, when we did not yet have the right to vote. All of this has had the effect of slowing down agricultural restructuring in the new countries, even though the positive results, it must be stressed, are visible.

The report presented is excessively optimistic and says too little about problems and difficulties and too much about successes. Further work is necessary within the context of next year’s CAP review.


  Zdzisław Zbigniew Podkański (UEN). – (PL) Mr President, in adapting to the CAP rules, the new Member States have incurred high social and economic costs. These costs arose as a result of historical conditions, but also of the lower direct subsidies than those received by the old Member States, and the marked unwillingness of the Commission and the Council to give the new members any help. Soft fruits, the Russian and Ukrainian embargo on Polish exports and honey imports from third countries are cases in point.

This experience raises a number of questions. Is there actually such a thing as a common agricultural policy? If so, why do the new Member States not receive the aid owing to them, not only on the external markets, but also on the internal market? Why has the market been opened to GM products, which are driving out healthy, organic products from the new Member States? And what will happen to the family-run farms that form the backbone of the farming system in many regions of the European Union, and which are now on the verge of bankruptcy?


  Димитър Стоянов (ITS). – Не съм мислил, че ще го кажа, но съм напълно съгласен с изказването на г-н Казак, с малкото допълнение, че в продължение на шест години Министерството на земеделието в България се държи от министър от неговата партия. Защо не направихте така, г-н Казак, че българските производители да знаят как да си поискат парите, които им се полагат от Европейския съюз. Десет години българите бяха подлъгвани с благините, които ги чакат в Евросъюза, а вместо това накрая получиха жестоки квоти и ужасна бюрокрация, която заплашва напълно да унищожи дребните производители в България. Докато общата земеделска политика не бъде направена така, че да може да достига до всички обикновени хора, без излишни административни пречки, аз в никакъв случай не мога да нарека тази политика обща.


  Andreas Mölzer (ITS).(DE) Mr President, allow me finally, at midnight, to make a few brief comments. Today, in my opinion, we have to be more careful than ever before that our agricultural structures remain intact and that we remain self-sufficient. We must also recognise that we are faced with a major new challenge because of the fact that older farmers are continually dying and that whole swathes of our countryside are threatened with depopulation because of migration from the land. Furthermore, we need to ensure that we respect the wishes of that 70% of the EU population that is opposed to genetically modified food. Finally, in connection with the new EU Member States, we need to proceed sensitively and bear in mind that, thanks to EU accession, agricultural products from these countries often prove to be export hits, but this leads to supply bottlenecks in the home country and ruinous price wars in the country of destination.


  Mariann Fischer Boel, Member of the Commission. First of all, on the issue of whether the timing of this debate reflects the importance of the inclusion of the new Member States, I can only say that this House is responsible for its own scheduling. I could say clearly that I would have preferred it to have taken place earlier this evening as well, but I have to defer to Parliament’s scheduling.

The phasing-in of direct payment was an issue raised by almost all of you. It is mentioned in several paragraphs in the report as well. I would like to explain that the phasing-in was not introduced solely for budgetary reasons. In the run-up to accession, the Commission made a thorough analysis of all the relevant factors. Based on this, the accession strategy for the common agricultural policy was based on economic, social and ecological factors. It was also necessary to boost the essential restructuring in the new Member States. This was not a decision that was taken in the Council of the 15 Member States. This was a decision that was taken in Copenhagen in 2002 with all the new Member States participating in the discussions on the phasing-in of the direct payments. So everybody was around the table.

So, on the statement that our own reforms are doing away with agriculture, I have to tell you clearly that it is actually to ensure that there will be a future for European agriculture, and I am sure that if we work together in Parliament, the Council and the Commission, we can create a future for European agriculture with all the strength that our sector has for delivering the high-quality products that we will need for the future, and I think that the example of the imports of frozen strawberries from China is an example where, when we join together, we can find decent solutions.

Discrimination in the common agricultural policy was mentioned as well within the wine and food sector. Come on! I think that we have tried to find a solution that can enable the new Member States to go together in the producer organisations in the fruit and vegetable sector by giving a higher co-financing percentage to the new Member States, by encouraging their sectors, their fruit and vegetable producers, to join these producer organisations so that they can be much stronger in their competition with the big retail sectors.

So, instead of quarrelling, let us stick together and find decent solutions for the common agricultural policy within the European Union.


  President. The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow at 11.00 a.m.

Written statements (Rule 142 of the Rules of Procedure)


  Joseph Muscat (PSE), in writing. (MT) In Malta, farmers and villagers are also victims of the deceitful ways of the Nationalist Government.

Prior to Malta’s accession to the European Union, the Maltese Government gave these categories of people the impression that, if a problem arose due to the import of foreign products during the first five years of membership, the government would have the right to bar the entry of those products. This is granted under the so-called Safeguard Clause.

The Labour Party immediately stated that this was not the case. We explained that the Safeguard Clause could only be used in exceptional and extremely limited circumstances.

Above all, the Maltese Government cannot decide, of its own free will, to use this clause. Instead, it would have to refer to the European Commission first, which would then take the decision.

Now, the Maltese Government has changed its tune.

Despite the constant complaints on the part of farmers and villagers, the Maltese Government is claiming that it must apply to the European Commission for permission to use the Safeguard Clause and that there is not a strong enough case for its doing so. The Commission is saying the same thing.

Time has proved the Labour Party right.


  Witold Tomczak (IND/DEM) , in writing. – (PL) In 2004, the European Union undertook the biggest and most significant enlargement in its history. It is therefore important to carry out an initial assessment of this fact. The point is whether this assessment will be as truthful as possible, or distorted, as it is important for the future of agriculture in the EU.

Whilst I acknowledge the enormous task faced by the rapporteur, I cannot agree with the wording of all the compromise amendments. You can not argue with figures. And these clearly show that the new Member States have been cheated. Official EU statistics reveal this fact. I would just like to quote the figures for expenditure on agricultural and rural development per hectare of arable land in 2007 and 2013.

2007: EU-10: 147.8 €/ha EU-15: 365.7 €/ha

2013: EU-10: 251.5 €/ha EU-15: 327.6 €/ha

Source: ‘Financial Perspective 2007-2013: EP Working Document No 9 EP of 2.12.2004’ and ‘The CAP Explained’. EC DG for Agriculture, October 2004.

The poorer countries, in order to bring their economic development levels in line with that of the wealthier EU states, have received, are receiving and will receive less financial support from the Community budget! The CAP, in its present form, contradicts its own aims and principles.

In light of the above general assessment, I appeal to you to vote according to your consciences and your sense of responsibility for the future of European agriculture.

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