Representatives of nine Central European Chambers of Agriculture gathered in Budapest in 28-29 November 2011 to have a discussion on the latest proposals of the European Commission on the future of the CAP. By the end of the meeting, a Joint Declaration has been signed, expressing the interests of the New Member States (NMS) in the future of the CAP.
The Declaration starts with the strong statement that the accession had an overall negative impact on NMS agriculture as its size and power has lost ground. Therefore the declaration clearly states that NMS have expected fundamental changes in the design of the CAP post-2013 and are highly disappointed with the recent proposals of the Commission. As clearly stated,
“The Commission’s proposal in its present form fails to envisage a stronger and more competitive European agriculture – instead it puts additional costs and various other administrative burdens on farmers. It does not come up with a genuinely simplified and transparent new regulation – instead it complicates the present system even further. It does not bring about a new, fair system of resource allocation – instead it still tolerates the historical reference system for many more years to come with yet another transition period. We need a stronger, simpler and fairer CAP than the one currently proposed by the Commission.”
In order to do so, the remaining part of the Declaration describes NMS proposals for reforming the CAP post-2013. Regarding direct payments, NMS believe that freezing the CAP budget in nominal terms together with introducing further cost-increasing elements under greening means a further decline in the anyway decreasing competitiveness of farmers. Due to high environmental, food safety, animal welfare and many other standards, farmers are losing positions in world competition and creating new burdens associated with greening would not help farmers to reverse this trend.
Therefore NMS suggest that greening measures should be voluntary and moved to the second pillar without any reduction in funding for the first pillar. Capping of direct payments are also against the interests of the NMS, according to the Declaration, as it does not encourage farmers to modernise farm structures as well as discriminates those using contract labour. Moreover, the Declaration calls for a fundamentally new system of calculating the national envelopes without historical references and transitional periods as current proposals seem to maintain the deep division across Member States in this regard.
Regarding proposals on common market organisation, NMS call for the maintenance of export refunds, updated intervention prices and the maintenance of milk and sugar quotas together with planting rights for the wine sector at least until 2020. All these interests are justified in the Declaration on the basis of the special characteristics of NMS agriculture.
As to rural development proposals, NMS require a clear definition of objective criteria and an equal redistribution of these funds across Member States without any bias. NMS also propose that 10 % of the total national envelopes be reallocated between Pillar 1 and 2, according to own decisions of Member States. Moreover, NMS find it essential that LFA payments are also received by only active farmers without any capping and also advise a compensation for farmers’ insurance payments and the reduction of the mandatory self-contribution to 10 %.
Though one might not agree with each and every proposal, NMS interests should be taken seriously if we really want to make the new CAP a common policy.
This post was written by Attila Jambor.