The EU cannot afford to cut the funding of its farm policy if it is to continue ensuring delivery of public goods to EU citizens, the Agriculture Committee said on Tuesday.
The EU needs a resilient, sustainable and competitive agricultural sector to deliver food security, provide high-quality and safe food at affordable prices to consumers, preserve landscapes and the natural environment and ensure a fair standard of living for farmers, Agriculture MEPs said in an opinion for the Budgets Committee on the future Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). For that, a modernised and well-funded Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with a stable budget is needed, they insist.
The Agriculture Committee strongly opposed the substantial cuts in the post-2020 CAP budget as proposed by the Commission. Challenges faced by farmers such as unfair trading practices, increased market concentration, free trade agreements and ongoing climate and weather-related problems, as well as new food, health and environment-related rules that farmers must comply with, would justify a budget increase, not cuts, MEPs say.
The CAP budget in the 2021-2027 MFF must therefore be at least maintained at the current 2014-2020 level in real terms, MEPs stress. To this end, as well as to finance new EU priorities and to plug the budget hole after Brexit, the EU member states should increase their contribution to the EU’s budget to 1.3% of their Gross National Income (GNI), they say.
The committee also called for maintaining the existing financial allocation for both the CAP’s first-pillar’s direct payments, as an income safety net that should help finance the transition to more sustainable and more competitive agriculture, and for its second-pillar’s rural development funds. MEPs deplored the severe cuts envisaged by the Commission for the second pillar of the CAP. To boost farmers’ income they suggests cutting red tape, increasing flexibility of controls and improving functioning and transparency of the food supply chain.
MEPs welcomed the Commission’s proposal to review the functioning of the crisis reserve, in particular the possibility to carry-over the unused funds from one year to another. But they rejected the idea to finance the crisis reserve with money from the direct payments’ envelope and they once again insisted on placing it outside the CAP budget.
The opinion, adopted in the Agriculture Committee by 30 votes in favour to five against, with three abstentions, will be scrutinised by the Budgets Committee during its 5 November meeting before the non-legislative text goes to a plenary vote - most probably during the 12 - 15 November EP session in Strasbourg.
Tuesday, 9 October 2018
Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development
In the chair: Czesław Adam Siekierski (EPP, PL)
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