Brussels | Commission’s CAP Files to Continue

Work will continue in the new parliament on the CAP files developed by the Commission and progressed under the previous parliament. With a new parliament now in place, there was the potential for all of the previous work to be rejected, and allowed lapse under what’s called an unfinished business rule. While this will not be the case, what will happen is still uncertain. Here we unpack the options.

By Oliver Moore

Work will continue in the new parliament on the CAP files developed by the Commission and progressed under the previous parliament. With a new parliament now in place, there was the potential for all of the previous work to be rejected, and allowed lapse under what’s called an unfinished business rule. While this will not be the case, what will happen is still uncertain. Here we unpack the options.

At at the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee (AGRI) meeting on the 4th of September (opens pdf) on the 4th September, a decision was made to ask for the continuation of work on the three CAP files, including the most important CAP Strategic Plans file. Technically, this involved the AG Committee contacting the leaders of the main groups in the Parliament (called the CCC – or Conference of Committee Chairs) “requesting a resumption of the 3 CAP files and that the files not be place on a Plenary agenda before November (at the earliest).”

“We must ensure that new MEPs are given a chance to contribute to the draft laws but at the same time, to save time and provide our farmers and consumers with clarity sooner rather than later, we want to avoid starting the debate on the future of the CAP from scratch,”  Norbert Lins (EPP, DE)  Chair of the Agriculture Committee said in a statement.

The new parliament could potentially have thrown out all the files as unfinished business. With the Green MEP surge and general disgruntlement with agri-food environmental performance on the rise, this was seen as something of an option. However, significant delays in farmer’s payments and in progressing what will be a massively changed bureaucratic set up (with Member states writing Strategic Plans) were just two of the reasons AGRI MEPs asked for continuity rather than change.

Even with continuity, there may nevertheless be delays. As reported in the Irish Independent  “Under the original Commission proposals Member States were to lodge CAP Strategic Plans for approval by January 1, 2020. These were then to be approved within eight months, with expenditure under the new plans starting in 2021.

However, this schedule has been totally disrupted by Brexit and its consequent impact on the overall EU budget or the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).”

Going forward, there are two main routes: the AGRI report goes to plenary and a yes/no vote, or the political groups amend the report to incorporate other Committee’s opinions. The latter could result in a much more complicated set of adjustments including amendments by the Environment committee (ENVI), political groups, groupings of 76+ MEPs or other committees, or also a process if there are more than 50 amendments. This would involving return files to the AGRI Committee using what’s called Rule 198,  and also possibly referring files  back to the political groups.

In both options, ENVI keeps it hard fought recently gained shared competence, while there will be opportunities to table ENVI ams in the final plenary vote.

Environment Committee Gains Right to Bring CAP Amendments to Plenary

There is still the possibility of an outright rejection of the draft via this more circuitous route. If this sounds all very confusing, we have below this fantastically detailed diagram to help you follow the decision-making maze.

 

  

Oliver Moore
About Oliver Moore 165 Articles
DR. Oliver Moore is the communications director and editor-in-chief with ARC2020. He has a PhD in the sociology of farming and food, where he specialised in organics and direct sales. He is published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies, International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. A weekly columnist and contributor with Irish Examiner, he is a regular on Countrywide (Irish farm radio show on the national broadcaster RTE 1) and engages in other communications work around agri-food and rural issues, such as with the soil, permaculture, climate change adaptation and citizen science initiative Grow Observatory . He lectures part time in the Centre for Co-operative Studies UCC