MEPs voted for a greener agricultural policy

On the future of the Common Agricultural Policy the Parliament is staking out its position for the next long-term budgetary period, running from 2014 to 2020. MEPs want to keep the EU agriculture budget unchanged until 2020 so that farmers have incentives to provide secure food supplies, environmental protection, create new jobs and provide for a competitive EU farming sector.

MEPs stressed their support for adequate funding in rural development in a previous vote which was stressed in this occasion too. According to MEPs, if the EU's agriculture policy is to provide both secure supplies of high quality food and contribute to environmental protection and renewable energy, it must be adequately funded, to give farmers an incentive to use modern, environmentally friendly techniques. Therefore, direct payments to farmers should be more directly linked to "greening measures" (low carbon emissions, low energy consumption).

For the members of the Assembly of European Regions (AER), who gathered on the occasion of a debate on the CAP reform previously to the vote, that was an opportunity to underline the need for a strong, sustainable and inclusive CAP for the regions. AER welcomes the evolution of the report adopted towards proposals that better take into account the whole range of challenges rural areas are faced with and supports in particular further simplification for an efficient CAP that is able to reach its objectives; the implementation of the principles of subsidiarity and multi-level governance; a more flexible rural development policy that is better coordinated with Cohesion Policy.

In order to reach these objectives, MEPs insisted that agricultural funding should be distributed more fairly among Member States and among different categories of farmers. Thus, the European Parliament agreed in a ceiling on direct payments per farmer but emphasise that new rules must take the size, employment record and environmental performance of each farm into account. To avoid misuse of public money, direct payments should be reserved for "active farmers", i.e. those who actually use their land for production.

With regard to guarantee security of milk supplies, MEPs ask the Commission to monitor the milk market and use suitable policy instruments for milk and milk products even after 2015. The current quota system is to be scrapped in 2014.