Mixed feelings emerge, as the new Common Agricultural Policy waits for its final vote. The European Commissioner for Agriculture, Dacian Ciolos stated that, unlike for some other member states, the new CAP would bring more money for Romanian farmers.
At the trilogue discussions from Brussels, Romania was represented by the Minister for Agriculture, Daniel Constantin and the secretary of the state, Achim Irimescu, who noted before the event that: “We are making a huge mistake if we encourage supplementary payments for farms between 1-5 hectares in the new CAP, because 90% of the beneficiaries are unfortunately subsistence farmers. Today, in Romania we have only 12000 economically viable farms, which use 45% of the countries’ arable land and clearly produce for the market. Indeed we have social problems and we cannot kill off small farmers, but in our opinion, it would be a mistake to encourage their maintenance in this form”.
However, Romania supported the increase of an EU co-financing from 75% to 85%, applied in less developed areas, taking in consideration the positive impact over the national budget. Regarding the degressivity of direct payments, the country also supported the 5% reduction for payments over 150.000 Euro, revealed a press release issued by the Ministry for Agriculture after the trilogue reunion.
According to the ministry, Romania will continue to benefit from direct payments until 2020. In addition, Romanian farmers will benefit from the subsidy convergence. This will be done in six years, instead of the four year period mentioned at the beginning of the negotiations. This means that Romania will witness a gradual increase of the subsidies from 119 Euro/ha in 2013 to 181 Euro/ha in 2020.
National authorities would also benefit from more flexibility to direct EU money in much needed areas. The Ministry for Agriculture already announced the establishment of two sub-programs in the National Rural Development plan supporting problematic sectors like highland agriculture and milk production.
“There is also the possibility to shift 25% from the Pillar II funds to Pillar I. I don’t think Romania will use this possibility. We still need to invest into new technologies. We have to allocate funds to reduce the gaps between the rural and the urban areas. Looking at the figures, I think Romania will not use this option”, mentioned the Minister for Agriculture.
Young farmers would benefit by subventions 25% higher than the rest of farmers. Authorities would also increase the eligible surface for the young farmer scheme, from 25 hectares to 100. Besides the 25% subsidy increase, young farmers would benefit from a bonus, which would increase from 40000 Euro to 70000 Euro.
As it turns out that national authorities will have a lot of power in deciding how European funds are spent, now farmers unions, peasants associations and agricultural institutions turn their attention and anticipation towards the new National Rural Development Plan draft being launched in October, which might highlight ways through much needed rural development in Romania could be accomplished.