COMAGRI lacks full transparency in crucial votes

Th AGRI Committee voted its Opinion on amendments to the CMO Regulation on Monday 1 April, its Opinion on the Strategic Plan Regulation on 2 April and will vote its Opinion on the Horizontal Regulation on financing, management and monitoring of the CAP today 8 April. I plan to comment on the substantive outcome of these votes in the coming days. In this post I want to comment on a procedural aspect of these votes that I find does not live up to the norms of acceptable practice and which makes it impossible for anyone not in the inner circle to follow the voting on these Opinions.

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First COMAGRI discussion on Omnibus Regulation

On 5 December last, COMAGRI had a first exchange of views on the so-called “Omnibus” proposal for a Regulation on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and amending a number of sectoral regulations. In my previous post, I flagged that this legislation provided the first opportunity to make changes to the CAP basic acts since the 2013 CAP reform was concluded.
It was thus interesting to listen to the mood of the Committee as the co-rapporteurs for the opinion, Albert Dess (EPP) and Paolo De Castro (S&D) introduced the discussion (a video of the discussion can be viewed here, beginning at 16:07).… Read the rest

The future of direct payments

My previous post highlighted the somewhat muted commitment in the Commission’s 2017 Work Programme to “take forward work and consult widely on simplification and modernisation of the Common Agricultural Policy to maximise its contribution to the Commission’s ten priorities and to the Sustainable Development Goals. This will focus on specific policy priorities for the future….”.
Member States as well as the European Parliament are also beginning to prepare their positions on what may or may not become the next CAP reform. Next week, on November 8th in Brussels, the European Parliament’s COMAGRI and Policy Department B are organising a workshop on Reflections on the agricultural challenges post 2020 in the EU: preparing the next CAP reform.… Read the rest

Preparing for the MFF Mid-Term Review

The EU budget is under increasing pressure in the face of both new and unexpected expenditure demands. Already, in the first two years of this Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) period 2014-2020, virtually all of the flexibility instruments which were put in place have been fully utilised, in part to fund the incoming Commission’s flagship project for a European Fund for Strategic Investments, and in part in response to the large number of arrivals of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants as well as the terrorist attacks in Europe. In total, around €12 billion has so far been mobilised under the various flexibility instruments, leading one commentator to observe that “the EU budget had been flexed to the maximum”.… Read the rest

The draft 2015 CAP budget

The annual budget is an important statement of any organisation’s strategic priorities. The EU budget is no exception, but its sheer size and complexity makes it difficult for the interested lay person to interpret and to understand.
The Commission proposed a draft budget (DB) for 2015 in June, and the figures are now under negotiation between the two legislative institutions. Since the Lisbon Treaty, the annual budget is agreed by co-decision between the Council and the Parliament, although the outcome must observe the ceilings agreed in the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF).
Once the draft budget is proposed, the Council first adopts its position and forwards it to the European Parliament (EP).… Read the rest

Who is happy with EP COMAGRI’s recent vote?

After more than a year of debate, the EP Agriculture and Rural Development Committee began adopting several amendments to the future CAP legislation on 23 and 24 January but approval remains far from certain.
Many criticisms have been made since the vote. The agro-lobby is talking about a melt-down of the urgently needed reforms and greening, reacting on the COMAGRI proposal to allow farmers to ‘opt out’ of mandatory greening requirements and still get at least 70% of the direct payments as well as watering down every single measure with so called ‘equivalents’.
Environmental campaigners also criticised the vote, alleging that the debate was dominated by agricultural interests.… Read the rest

COMAGRI CAP2020 amendments published

The amendments proposed by COMAGRI committee members are now posted on the COMAGRI website. They include those proposed by the rapporteurs in their draft reports The links to the amendments to the four main regulations are given here.
Direct payments regulation (2292 amendments).
Single CMO regulation (2227 amendments)
Rural development regulation (2127 amendments)
Horizontal regulation (769 amendments)
The next COMAGRI meeting on 3 September will exchange views on the amendments to the Commission proposal related to direct payments to farmers after 2013. The total of 2292 tabled amendments include the 111 by the rapporteur, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos. In addition, other Committees have also adopted opinions to this proposal.… Read the rest

COMAGRI Chair calls for maintenance of CAP budget in real terms

Paolo De Castro, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI), is also the rapporteur for the COMAGRI opinion on the Commission’s proposal for a new MFF regulation. His draft report circulated last month is a trenchant call for additional money for farmers and greater flexibility in how it can be spent.
While the rapporteur’s draft has yet to be discussed by COMAGRI, it is likely to be approved as it builds on previous Parliament reports and resolutions. The COMAGRI opinion is a set of suggestions to the Budget Committee which has the ultimate responsibility for drafting the Parliament’s view on whether to consent to the Council’s (and, ultimately, the European Council’s) decision on the MFF ceilings in the 2014-2020 period.… Read the rest

COMAGRI draft report on direct payments regulation

The draft reports by the COMAGRI rapporteurs on the four main CAP regulations were published last week. They include reports on the future of direct payments and support for rural development by Mr Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos, the report on the single common market organisation by Mr Michel Dantin, and the report on the common provisions for financing, management and monitoring of the CAP by Mr Giovanni La Via.
In addition, a number of the other EP committees have prepared draft opinions on the proposals – see the Environment Committee here, but also the Development Committee, the Budget Committee and the Regional Development Committee.… Read the rest

CAP Reform Conversations: Paolo De Castro MEP

In the first of a series of video conversations with leading figures in the debate over the future of the CAP, Jack Thurston talks to Paolo De Castro MEP, chair of the parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and a former two-term Italian agriculture minister and professor of agricultural economics.

De Castro explains that he has always regarded himself as a CAP reformer and sets out his vision for a reshaping of the EU’s farm subsidy system. He advocates a shift to a basic flat rate aid payment to farmers, plus additional funds to be allocated at the discretion of member states.

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