Political agreement for the CAP towards 2020

Concluding the last trilogue on 26 June in Brussels, the European Parliament, the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission have reached an agreement on reforming the common agricultural policy (CAP) post 2013.

Credit: Oliver Moore

This deal which needs to be formally adopted by the EP in the Autumn may also be updated thanks to the MFF 2014-2020 decisions. This includes capping/degressivity of direct aids as well as the flexibility between Pillars.

Below the  main outcomes of the political agreement.

Distribution of direct aids (Pillar 1)

  1. External convergence: the distribution of the CAP budget will ensure that no single Member State (MS) receives less than 75% of the Community average by 2019.

  2. Internal convergence: within a given MS or region, divergences in the levels of aid will be reduced from one holding to the next: aid per hectare may not be less than 60% of the average of the aid disbursed by 2019 in a single administrative or agronomic area. For new MS, the Simplified Area Payments Scheme (SAPS) – a single payment per hectare – may be extended until 2020.

  3. Redistributive payments on first hectares: MS will be able to increase support for small and medium-sized farms by allocating higher levels of aid for the ‘first hectares’ of a holding (up to 30 ha or national average and up to 30% of the national ceiling).

  4. Only farmers currently active may benefit from income-support schemes (list of excluded activities that MS may complete).

  5. Young farmers will be encouraged to set up business, with the introduction in all MS of a 25% aid supplement during the first 5 years in addition to the existing investment measures aimed at young farmers (Pillar 2).

  6. MS will also be able to allocate increased amounts of aid to less-favoured areas.

  7. It will be possible to allocate coupled payments for a limited number of products, with a specific 2% coupling for plant-based proteins, so as to make the EU less dependent on soja imports in this area.

  8. A simplified aid scheme for small farmers will be available to the MS that so desire.

Greening of direct aids

  1. ‘Greening’ of 30% of direct payments (Pillar 1) will be linked to three environmentally-friendly farming practices: crop diversification (2 crops between 10 and 30 ha, 3 crops beyond 30 ha, the main crop does not exceed 75%) 30 ha, maintaining permanent grassland and conserving 5%, and later 7%, of areas of Ecological Focus Areas (hedges, trees, bufferstrips…) as from 2018 or measures considered to have at least equivalent environmental benefits.

  2. At least 30% of the rural development programmes’ budget (Pillar 2)will have to be allocated to agri-environmental measures, support for organic farming, less favoured areas, Natura 2000 or projects associated with environmentally friendly investment or innovation measures.

  3. Agri-environmental measures on Pillar 2 will be stepped up to complement greening practices. These programmes will have to set and meet higher environmental protection targets (guarantee against double funding).

Common market organisation

  1. Professional and interprofessional organisations will be promoted, and, for certain sectors, there will be specific regulations on competition law (milk, beef, olive oil, cereals). Such organisations will be able to increase efficiency by negotiating sales agreements on behalf of their members.

  2. Sugar quotas will be abolished by 2017, and the organisation of the sugar sector will be strengthened on the basis of contracts and mandatory interprofessional agreements.

  3. As from 2016, in the wine sector, the planting rights system will be replaced by a planting-authorisation management mechanism in which professionals are involved to a greater extent, applicable until 2030, with a fixed planting limit of 1% for vines per year.

  4. Crisis measures: the Commission will be able to temporarily authorise producers to manage the volumes placed on the market,

  5. Provision of a crisis reserve (including a general emergency clause).

  6. Under rural development programmes, Member States will be able to encourage farmers to take part in risk prevention mechanisms (income support schemes or mutual funds) and to devise sub-programmes deployed for sectors facing specific problems.

  7. Export refunds set at zero

Transparency and innovation

  1. The amount of funding to support research, innovation and knowledge-sharing will be doubled (through the European Innovation Partnership)..

  2. Rural development programmes will be better coordinated with other European funds and the sector-based approach will be replaced by a more adaptable national or regional strategic approach.

  3. Details of all CAP aid will be made public, with the exception of the very small amounts allocated to small farmers.

All aspects of the reform will be applicable as from 1 January 2014, except for the new direct payments structure (‘green’ payments, additional support for young people, etc.) which will apply as from 2015 in order to give MS time to inform farmers about the new CAP and to adapt computer-based CAP management systems.

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About Samuel Féret 34 Articles

Samuel Féret is project manger at the Institut Agronomique Méditerranéen de Montpellier (IAMM) and a board member of ARC2020.