In a interview with EurActiv.de published on December 7th, Michael Roth – member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany – stated that the EU needs to stop giving preferential treatment to German farmers and focus more on binding agricultural subsidies to environmental regulations.
According to Roth, German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner is head of the ‘coalition of the unwilling’. He stated that the minister and the agricultural lobby are against any new and innovative measures, thus preventing progress being made.
In terms of redistributing direct payments, and claims the German farmers stand to lose out from this, Roth stated that the reform needed to be viewed from a different angle. He said the focus needed to remain on the greening of agricultural policy and suggested that massive losses would only threaten farmers who do not adjust to the new qualitative structure of the EU subsidy mechanism.
In terms of the plans to cap direct payments, Roth said he fully supported the proposals, although Aigner remains critical. He highlighted that according to the Commission only 80 companies would be affected in Germany.
On the proposals
Talking about the proposals more generally, he spoke of the current unfair distribution that remains between the eastern and central European countries and the old Member States. ‘We would have liked a greater effort into a fair direct payment regime before 2020’.
Speaking about the budget, he urged for greater targeting, efficiency and transparency to help reduce public skeptism and better demonstrate the added value for the common good. He also spoke of the need for a balancing act and flexibility for farmers to minimise the bureaucratic burden of direct payment ties to environmental criteria.
He expressed disappointment that the initially encouragingly high ambitions of Commissioner Cioloş had not been met. ‘The Commission has lagged behind its potential and our expectations’.
The full interview can be found here (in German)
Michael Roth has been a member of the SPD since 1998 and the European spokesman since 2010. The SPD are currently the opposition party in Germany. The interview was conducted by Michael Kaczmarek