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EU farm reform offers stronger role for Member States

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EU farm reform offers stronger role for Member States

Phil Hogan - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - EU Member States will have a stronger role in deciding how to allocate EU public subsidies to farmers under proposals for more sustainable farming put forward by the EU Commission Wednesday.

The Communication on the future of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) beyond 2020, entitled 'The Future of Food and Farming' is the first to require Member States to deliver measurable benefits for nature and climate, setting the baseline for modern and sustainable farming.

This would allow EU Member States greater responsibilities to choose how and where to invest their CAP funding in order to meet ambitious common goals on environment, climate change and sustainability.

"Today's Communication ensures that the Common Agricultural Policy will deliver on new and emerging objectives such as fostering a smart and resilient agricultural sector, bolstering environmental care and climate action and strengthening the social-economic fabric of rural areas," said Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan: " It also marks a significant step change in the implementation of the CAP. Instead of the current system, a new implementation system will be introduced, giving MS/regions a much greater degree of subsidiarity."

While keeping the current two pillar structure, the simpler, more flexible approach will set out the detailed actions to reach these objectives agreed at the EU level. Each EU country would then develop their own strategic plan – approved by the Commission – setting out how they intend to meet the objectives. Rather than on compliance, the attention will be paid more on monitoring progress and ensure funding is focused on concrete results. Moving from a one-size-fits-all to a tailor-made approach means the policy and its real-life implications will be closer to those who implement it on the ground.

Support for farmers will continue through the system of direct payments. The Commission stresses that the Communication does not pre-empt the outcome of debate on the future of EU finances, nor the content of its proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). It does on the other hand 'explore some possibilities' to ensure a fair and better targeted support of farmers' income.

The proposal has been given cautious welcome by the WWF. But it warns that it still lacks 'clear and mandatory EU targets to reduce the impact of our agriculture on nature and climate'.

Climate change and pressures on natural resources will continue affecting farming and food production. The EU executive says the future CAP should reflect higher ambition as regards resource efficiency, environmental care and climate action.

Other proposals include:

  • Encouraging the use of modern technologies to support farmers on the ground and provide greater market transparency and certainty
  • Greater attention to encourage young people to take up farming, to be coordinated with Member States' own powers in such areas as land taxation, planning and skills development
  • Address citizens' concerns regarding sustainable agricultural production, including health, nutrition, food waste and animal welfare
  • Seek coherent action among its policies in line with its global dimension, notably on trade, migration and sustainable development
  • Creating an EU-level platform on risk management on how best to help farmers cope with the uncertainty of climate, market volatility and other risks

Relevant legislative proposals giving effect to the goals outlined in this Communication are due to be tabled by the Commission before the summer 2018.

The Future of Food and Farming - Commission 
Communication - background guide


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