Why national co-financing of CAP Pillar 1 payments is needed in the MFF

There are few things that unite Agriculture Ministers more than their rejection of the idea of national co-financing of CAP Pillar 1 (P1) spending. In their first public discussion of the Commission’s November 2017 Communication of the future of the CAP post 2020 at the AGRIFISH Council meeting on 29 January, various agriculture Ministers, including France and Poland, explicitly made clear their opposition to national co-financing (as has Spain as reported here).

In early February, the Commission circulated a Communication ahead of the forthcoming European Council meeting on 23 February outlining the implications of different choices with respect to EU expenditure and financing in the forthcoming Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

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Brakes removed from voluntary coupled support

I have previously written about the provisions for voluntary coupled support (VCS) in the 2013 CAP reform package in this blog post in 2015 entitled “Two steps forward, one step back: coupled payments in the CAP”. That post gives a historical overview of the gradual phasing out of coupled payments during the 2000s and the reversal of this process in the 2013 reform. In the recently-agreed Omnibus Agricultural Provisions Regulation (EU) 2017/2393, a significant relaxation of the conditions that Member States must meet in gaining approval for their VCS schemes was introduced. The negotiating history of this amendment is particularly opaque and sheds an interesting light on the secrecy and non-transparency of the trilogue process in which the Council and European Parliament, as co-legislators, try to reach agreement on legislative proposals.

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The ANC delimitation controversy continues

Last week it was the turn of farmers in the south-west of France to take to the streets to protest against the introduction of new maps of Areas facing Natural Constraints (ANCs). I have explained the background to this controversy in a previous post , which essentially revolves around how to define ANC category (b) areas which are described in the Rural Development Regulation 1305/2013 as “(b) areas, other than mountain areas, facing significant natural constraints.”

For years the European Court of Auditors criticised Member States for designating these areas (previously referred to as Less Favoured Area (LFA) intermediate areas) without proper documentary evidence.

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