My previous post on EU budget decision-making in mid-October described the complex inter-relationships between agreement on the EU’s long term budget the Multi-annual Financial Framework, the conciliation procedure with respect to the 2014 budget and the divisions between the Council and Parliament on the Commission’s draft amending budgets to the 2013 budget seeking additional funds to avoid pushing more expenditure further into the coming year.
At the end of the post, I described an optimistic scenario in which the Lithuanian Presidency got the Council’s agreement to pay the amending budgets for 2013 and the conciliation process between Council and Parliament on the 2014 budget was successful, thus paving the way for formal approval of the political agreement already reached on the MFF.… Read the rest
The Council announced last Wednesday (October 23) that a political agreement had been reached with the Parliament on the transition measures for agriculture in 2014. This follows the publication of the Commission proposal in April and the adoption of the COMAGRI position in September (the relevant documents are available here in the European Parliament Legislative Observatory)
For direct payments and rural development, the new CAP rules will start to apply as from 1 January 2015. Council and Parliament agreed in June to postpone the implementation of the new rules on direct payments until 1 January 2015, but this seems to be the first time that the institutions have agreed that the start of rural development programmes should be pushed back to 1 January 2015.… Read the rest
The Scottish Government is currently waging a campaign for a higher share of the UK national envelopes for Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of the CAP. It claims that Scotland is almost certain to find itself at the bottom of the EU per hectare league table in terms of both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 support by the end of the next CAP period because, as a region, it could not directly benefit from the ‘external convergence’ formula used to increase payments in those countries with currently low payments per hectare.
As part of its campaign, the Scottish Government has prepared two tables showing the levels of payment per hectare for both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 in each member state currently and on average over the 2014-2020 MFF period to bolster its case.… Read the rest
All eyes have been focused on the US government shutdown from October 1 through 17 after Congress failed to enact appropriations for the fiscal year 2014, and the simultaneous threat of a US default due to the inability to get a political majority to raise the debt ceiling until Congress finally agreed at the last moment yesterday. Less attention has been paid to the warning given by Financial Programming and Budget Commissioner Lewandowski some weeks ago, and repeated by the Director-General of that Directorate at the European Parliament Budget Committee yesterday, that the EU Commission will find itself unable to pay its bills by the middle of November unless additional appropriations are made available to fund the 2013 budget.… Read the rest
Every so often the debate about how far and how fast powers should be transferred from member states to the Union level within the EU and vice versa gains momentum. This debate about the optimal degree of centralisation or decentralisation in policy-making is known as the debate about subsidiarity in EU terminology.
The principle of subsidiarity is now part of the Lisbon Treaty but there are many observers who feel that this does not work very well. The optimal degree of policy centralisation is part of the debate on the response to the Eurozone crisis as well as a key element in David Cameron’s demand in his London speech in January 2013 for the repatriation of powers from the Union to member states.… Read the rest
The first initiative in what member states hope might be the final push to get agreement on the next Multi-annnual Financial Framework by the end of this year under the Cyprus Presidency took place yesterday (30 August) when the Cypriots hosted an informal meeting of the General Affairs Council in Nicosia.
During July, the Cypriots held a series of bilateral meetings (‘confessionals’) with the 27 member states and Croatia. Based on these discussions an Issues Paper was prepared for the meeting. This paper reported briefly on the outcome of the bilateral consultations, presented the Presidency´s proposed orientations for reflection by the delegations, and included a brief reference to the next steps.… Read the rest
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
Discussions on the CAP regulations post-2013 and negotiations on a new multi-annual financial framework (MFF) for the period 2114-2020 are inextricably linked. As EU politicians and civil servants take to the beaches for their summer vacation this month, it is timely to review how far the negotiations on the MFF package have come and how close/far we are to/from an agreement. The official view (see the Council MFF website) is that we are on course to reach political agreement on the MFF package by the end of this year. This would allow legislative work to be finalised in sufficient time for the new MFF, new rules on own resources and new spending programmes to apply from 1 January 2014, but this may be more wishful thinking than a real forecast.… Read the rest
It has been clear for some time that most of the key issues of the CAP reform will be negotiated upon in the framework of the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) by foreign ministers and heads of state of the EU Member States. The Danish Presidency prepared a special document – a Negotiating Box, which should define all the negotiating issues and facilitate the conclusion of negotiations. The negotiations have thus started to heat up, negotiators have presented their arguments and formed the clubs of like-minded countries. Before the negotiations culminate, expectedly at the turn of 2013, we shall try to define the positions of individual actors on the key issues and speculate on the possible outcome of negotiations on the basis of the available sources (Agra Europe, Agra Focus, internal positions of Member States).… Read the rest
The European Commission has proposed to extend the principle of macroeconomic conditionality which currently exists for the Cohesion Fund to all the ‘CSF’ funds in the next MFF period. The CSF funds are those covered by the Common Strategic Framework and include the EAFRD rural development fund as well as the regional, social, cohesion and fisheries funds. The basic idea is that commitments agreed for a member state under its Partnership Contract could be suspended if a member state is not compliant with its macroeconomic guidelines. As the Commission explains:
The draft Regulation seeks to establish a much closer linkage between EU cohesion policy and economic governance, on the grounds that sound economic policies are essential to ensure that CSF Funds are spent effectively.
… Read the rest