‘Fear’ and concern raised as EU reforms CAP

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Phil Hogan, commissioner for agriculture, called the announcement a 'significant step change' in CAP reform
Phil Hogan, commissioner for agriculture, called the announcement a 'significant step change' in CAP reform

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Farm groups have issued a mixed response to the European Commission’s plan to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by giving member states more powers.

EU farm group Copa-Cogeca​ said it feared “simplification​” of the CAP would “not be delivered​”, while the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) said it is “concerned​” by uncertainty over the budget.

Both organisations were responding to the European Commission’s major CAP reform, aiming to give member states more responsibility to choose how and where to invest CAP funds post-2020.

Simpler rules and a more flexible approach to the CAP are the cornerstone ideas floated by the European Commission.

But Copa president Joachim Rukwied questioned if the system would, in fact, make things easier for European farmers.

We need a strong, competitive CAP in the future, with common and simple rules across the EU. The Commission’s aim to simplify CAP rules is welcome news, but we fear that when it comes to the new delivery model, a real simplification will not be delivered,​” said Rukwied.

Raiding the CAP budget

Phil Hogan​, commissioner for agriculture, stressed the changes would ensure that the CAP makes farming more resilient, bolsters climate action and improves the livelihood of rural families.

The IFA, though, said it was concerned by a note in a paper issued by the Commission suggesting the EU Budget would have to do more to meet new challenges and that the CAP would need to be examined in this context.

Commissioner Hogan cannot allow the CAP budget to be raided; any new EU initiatives must be funded by new money,​” said IFA president Joe Healy.

Rukwied agreed, adding he opposed any capping or lessening of direct payments.

The Commission said support for farmers would continue through the direct payments scheme.

However, it said it would not “pre-empt​” the outcome of debate on the future of the EU finances, which will be revised when the current seven-year financial framework ends in 2020.

The European Commission launched a review of the CAP in February 2017 to understand how the oldest EU common policy could be future-proofed. Legislative proposals to enshrine the changes outlined by the Commission will be tabled in 2018.

CAP reform initiatives – what you need to know

• Member states to have greater responsibilities to choose how to invest CAP funding to meet shared goals on environment, climate change and sustainability;
• Encourage the use of modern technology to provide more transparency raised;
• Greater attention to encourage young people to take up farming;
• Address general public’s concern on sustainable farming, health, food waste and animal welfare;
• Find coherent policies on trade, migration and sustainable development;
• Build an EU-wide platform on risk management to protect industry against market forces.

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