EP Agriculture Committee's insights on Commission plans about CAP

The European Commission plans to make EU farm policy fairer to farmers, and at the same time more responsive to public concerns. Although this general objective was welcomed by Parliament's Agriculture Committee, also voiced concerns about how the plans could affect farmers, and the difficulty of putting them into practice.

Taking up Parliament's July 2010 proposals to make direct payments fairer for farmers and Member States, the Communication presented by the European Commission on the future of CAP proposes a basic income support to provide a uniform level of aid, as well as additional help for areas with natural constraints, and an (optional) national ceiling for payments received by large farms.The Commission also proposes to include a mandatory "greening" element in the direct payments system.

Focus on farmers

While Parliament shows the shared wish with the Commission to retain the CAP's current two-pillar structure (direct payments and rural development), Parliament's rapporteur Albert Dess, highlighted that Europe must focus on the needs of the farming community and make sure money go to investment and not to bureaucracy. Some deputies stressed in this sense, the need for the new PAC to really address farmers' concerns instead of building new red tape, particularly as related to environmental policy.

Commissioner Ciolos replied that the future CAP will simplify, but make full use of, existing tools to enhance environmental sustainability.

Some MEPs expressed concerns that an excessive burden on the greening of EU agriculture could involves less competitiveness. They highlighted that new CAP should have at least the same budget as in the previous years and that new "green" requirements should be introduced only if the budget is "consistent" with them. The European Commission noted in this regard that the EU manages a limited budget for both old and new policies, and that there is therefore the need to balance policy ambitions and actual financial means.

Jobs as a payment criterion

EP Committee on Agriculture supported the plans for a fairer payments scheme and for stabilizing the income of farmers, but regretted that the employment is not envisaged as an element for the distribution of support. In addition to praising the overall objective of the future CAP to make it acceptable not only for European farmers but to society as a whole, some MPs also regretted that payments were not linked to job creation.

The Agriculture Committee will now begin to discuss the Communication of the Commission and submit their own proposals for the beginning of next year.