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Did the Commission have second thoughts on raiding Pillar 2 to support Pillar 1 payments?

In presenting its proposals for the 2014-2020 MFF on June 29th last, the Commission Services produced a helpful guide to the proposals in the form of a Q&A Questions and Answers memo. Intriguingly, there appear to be two versions in circulation.

For example, one version on the EUBusiness.com website (also picked up by NFU Online) contains the following paragraph on CAP Pillar 2.

The allocation of rural development funds will be revised on the basis of more objective criteria and better targeted to the objectives of the policy. This will ensure a fairer treatment of farmers performing the same activities. In order to avoid a reduction in farmers’ income, the Commission will propose to allow Member States, if they so wish, to maintain the current nominal level of funding through transfers from Pillar Two to Pillar One.

However, in the version now available on the Commission’s MFF website, this paragraph reads:

The allocation of rural development funds will be revised on the basis of more objective criteria and better targeted to the objectives of the policy. This will ensure a fairer treatment of farmers performing the same activities.

In other words, the proposal to allow Member States flexibility to shift funds from Pillar 2 to Pillar 1 in order to maintain farmers’ incomes has been dropped.

Commission Ciolos in his commentary on the MFF proposals made no mention of this possible flexibility, where he promised that “we will keep solid Rural Development programmes, with a consistent level of support, at the centre of the future CAP – in contrast to some of the rumours that have been circulating in recent weeks”.

If the missing sentence turns out to be true, expect an outraged reaction from rural development groups around the Union.

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3 Replies to “Did the Commission have second thoughts on raiding Pillar 2 to support Pillar 1 payments?”

  1. Missing sentence appears to be true, given that the Communication states that “the Commission will make proposals to permit flexibility between the two pillars”.

  2. @Mike

    Thanks a lot for highlighting this. The sentence in the Communication reads:

    “To enable the CAP to respond to the challenges that are linked with the economic, social, environmental and geographical specificities of European agriculture in the 21st century and to effectively contribute to the Europe 2020 objectives, the Commission will make proposals to permit flexibility between the two pillars.”

    When I read this initially, I made the presumption that this was intended to allow the continuation of a form of voluntary modulation, to shift funds from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2, perhaps in the form of an enhanced Article 69. It did not occur to me that the Commission also might intend to allow MS flexibility to move funds in the other direction, from Pillar 2 to Pillar 1.

    Particularly as there is a disconnect with the objective set out in the missing sentence (in order to support farmers’ incomes) and the rather more high-flown objectives enumerated in the sentence above (contributing to the Europe 2020 objectives, which seems more plausibly the objective of Pillar 2).

    It is still interesting to ask why the sentence appears to have been removed in the ‘final’ version of the Q&A.

  3. You’re absolutely right pointing that the context of Europe 2020 suggests that it’s about shifting funds to Pillar 2. But the missing sentence has disappeared not only from Q&A but also from the Communication itself (leaked version circulating right before the official publication), being substituted by the sentence you’ve cited.
    Has the Commission made such an U-turn?

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