An the extraordinary EU Summit on 22 – 23 November, Heads of State will meet to discuss the EU Budget for the next period 2014 – 2020. At present, France, Spain and Italy are the states pushing strongest to maintain and protect the CAP budget. However, with Germany, the UK and the Netherlands calling for substantial cuts in the budget across the board, we can expect a tough battle.
In the latest version of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) drafted by the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, further cuts to the CAP budget were put forward. According to an article published in Europolitics, “…the proposal foresees a cut of €13.19 billion (4.88%) in direct payments. It also proposes an overall amount of €83.7 billion for rural development support – €8.3 billion (9.03%) less than what the Commission proposed.” In others words, Pillar 2 has been cut by twice as much as Pillar 1. In addition, the proposal states that capping of the direct payments for large beneficiaries will be introduced by Member States on a voluntary basis.
Via Twitter, Agriculture Commissioner Ciolos reacted stating the “Van Rompuy paper would slow investment & modernisation of farm sector” adding that “Added flexibility between Direct Payments & Rural Dev means CAP would become less ‘common‘”
The proposals have raised concern among organic and environmental groups, particularly concerning the greening component under CAP direct payments and cut to the rural development budget. IFOAM EU Group have today issued a press release in reaction to the Van Rompuy’s proposal criticising the cuts to rural development and environmental payments, stating it dramatically and fails to address key challenges. IFOAM EU Group Vice President Thomas Fertl states:
“…The proposed cuts put into question the ability of key rural development measures to deliver on CAP priorities, pouring cold water on the political will to deliver “public money for public goods” under this CAP reform and undermining the sustainability objectives of the EU 2020 Strategy.”
Jan Plagge, Chair of the IFOAM EU farmer sector group added: “We call on the EU heads of states to heed our concerns and correct this mistake. In this time of financial crisis the EU must clearly invest in its farmers and rural areas with a key emphasis on environmental services, jobs and sustainable rural livelihoods…“
European Coordination Via Campesina have issued a press release calling on the EU not to endorse the proposal of the President of the European Council, whilst Birdlife Internationa,l, EEB and WWF have written a letter to Van Rompuy expressing their concern regarding the cuts to the rural development budget, asking him to keep the EU budget focused on the needs of EU citizens and not to cut rural development.
Since the release of the paper, the French prime minister has rejected the budget compromise and objected to the deep cuts to agriculture spending.
For more on the MFF see here: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/special-reports/mff?lang=en
For related news on the Van Rompuy proposal see: