Negotiations on future CAP have speeded up

Despite the hot summer across Europe, the previous weeks were quite busy in Brussels. On June 18th and 19th 2012, the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee Rapporteurs presented their four draft reports on the reform on the Common Agricultural Policy, while one week on, on June 25th, these draft plans were confronted with national interests (based on the report ‘The CAP Reform: The State of Play in National Parliaments’) at a meeting between Agriculture Committee MEPs and representatives of national parliaments. This process is due to the Parliament’s newly engaged co-decision powers with the Council based on the Lisbon Treaty. Meanwhile, the Danish Presidency has also submitted its report to the Agricultural Council on the progress achieved during the first half of 2012.
On the 18th and 19th meeting, draft plans regarding direct payments, rural development, the single common market organisation and the common provisions for financing, management and monitoring were tabled in the COMAGRI meeting, providing the first official indication of the thinking in the European Parliament on the original legislative proposals of the Commission. Headlines include the need for further steps towards an equal distribution of direct payments, the rejection of capping and the revision of the active farmer definition, simplification on spending controls, the maintenance of wine sector planting rights and the prolongation of sugar quotas, more flexible greening and the provision of bank guarantees to young farmers.
On the 25 July meeting, both the national parliamentarians and the Agriculture Committee MEPs had agreed that the new EU farm policy must have a decent budget to provide a secure supply of high-quality food to all EU citizens. In keywords, national MPs wanted fair budget, less red tape and flexible greening on the 25 June meeting. As to the need for a fairer budget, most MPs called for a fairer distribution of direct payments across the EU, though there was no agreement on the exact way doing so. As to budgetary issues, Mr De Castro, Chair of the COMAGRI, added that “neither the European Parliament nor its Agriculture Committee will adopt a final position before the deal on the EU’s multiannual financial framework is reached.” Regarding cuts in bureaucracy, national MPs welcomed the reform proposals made by EP rapporteurs on 18 and 19 June, but called for more cuts in unnecessary bureaucracy and for the simplification of existing rules for farmers. As for greening, most MPs agreed that they should respect specific situations in different Member States and the European Parliament should make them more flexible.
On the one hand, several MEPs believe that they have praised progress on CAP reform, while on the other hand, critics argue that all this progress was about watering down of initial proposals. Today the Cypriot Presidency takes over from the Danish for the remainder of 2012 with all the challenges Europe and the CAP faces. Whether the final COMAGRI vote together with the agreement on the future multiannual financial framework is made under the Cypriot Presidency or not, the way negotiations are heading is pretty clear: maintaining the status quo as much as possible.

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