COVID-19 crisis: Agriculture Committee wants to speed up €8bn in aid to farmers 

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Agriculture Committee approved on Tuesday plans for fast, targeted and sustainable recovery package for EU farmers, food producers and rural areas that should also boost their resilience.

MEPs updated the text proposed by the Commission to frontload all the money made available for rural communities from the EU recovery instrument to the years 2021 and 2022. The EU executive originally wanted to release the money from 2022 to 2024. Around 30% of the €8.07 billion aid (in current prices) should become available in 2021, the remaining 70% would then be released in 2022, MEPs say.

The Agriculture Committee wants to secure at least 37% of the available recovery funding for environment and climate-related actions. At least 55% of the recovery fund should support young farmers’ business start-ups and on-farm investments that contribute to a resilient, sustainable and digital economic recovery in line with the European Green Deal, MEPs say.

Higher EU co-financing and contributions

EU should finance 90% of eligible recovery and resilience measures, MEPs insist. Investments by farmers and food processors contributing to a sustainable and digital economic recovery could be co-financed by the EU to a total of 80% (up from 40%). This would go up to 90% in less developed regions (up from 50%) and in outermost regions, smaller Aegean islands and certain areas in Croatia (up from 75%).

MEPs also want to increase the maximum level of support that the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) gives to food production covered by EU quality schemes from €3.000 to €5.000 per holding per year. The ceiling for the business start-up aid from EAFRD for young farmers should go up from €70.000 to €100.000, they add.

The committee also increased the maximum level of EAFRD support for crop, animal and plant insurance, mutual funds for adverse climatic events and animal and plant diseases, and the income stabilisation tool from 70% to 80% of costs.

Quote

“The European Parliament has shown once again that it can respond to the real needs and calls for support from our citizens, our rural communities and our farmers and food producers. We want the EU recovery funding to increase resilience, sustainability and digitalisation of the sector and not just finance the business-as-usual solutions. By doing this, we are showing concrete EU solidarity with a sector that, even in the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, has never let EU citizens down”, said rapporteur Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT).

Next steps

The text on the Next Generation EU recovery instrument, approved in the Agriculture Committee by 46 votes in favour with none against and two abstentions, will now have to be negotiated with the Council. The new rules should then be incorporated into the CAP transitional regulation.


Type of document: Regulation