CAP budget deal ‘as good as can be expected’
THE funding deal for next Common Agricultural Policy is as good as can be expected in the economic circumstances, UK farming unions have said.
The Commission has proposed that the CAP budget is frozen at the 2013 level of €371.7bn for the seven years until 2020, representing a reduction in real terms.
The proportion of the split between Pillars One and Two would also remain at €281.8bn and €89.9bn, with annual budget in both cases dropping each year up to 2020.
NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller said: “Given the perilous state of the global economy and many of the EU’s own Member States, it was too much to expect that the EU Commission might actually propose the CAP budget be increased. It is therefore to be welcomed that up until 2020, funds available to support agriculture in the EU would be more or less the same.”
He welcomed the proposal to maintain the balance between the two Pillars, saying it was a ‘relief’ that Pillar Two would not be ‘slashed’ as had been predicted.
He said it was also important proposals to ‘green’ 30 per cent of direct payments does not lead to a ‘complex administrative system and a situation whereby farmers cannot afford not to comply’. He also called for moves cap large payments to be ‘extinguished’.
He welcomed the he proposal to allow flexibility between the two Pillars - in contrast to his NFU counterpart Peter Kendall.
Speaking at a conference on the Future of the CAP in Germany, Mr Kendall said he was concerned about the suggestion of flexible transfers between the two pillars of the CAP.
“We want a simpler, more uniform policy which is fair to British farmers, and this has the potential to threaten those objectives,” he said.
He was also realistic about the settlement. “Given the austerity and budget deficit reduction policies around Europe, we could not expect agriculture to be entirely spared. The Commission are proposing a budget freeze for the CAP, which I believe represents a realistic outcome,” he said.
“I have always said that, whatever the size of the final budget allocation, fair and equitable treatment for British farmers is vital.”
The Country Land and Business Association claimed that its lobbying work in Brussels to maintain the CAP budget had paid off.
CLA president William Worsley said the proposal was ‘as good an outcome as could have been expected and showed the impact of the CLA being one of the few organisations to fight for a sufficiently funded CAP’.
He said the CLA was ‘relieved’ that attempts to disproportionally cut Pillar Two were ‘seen off and both Pillars of the CAP have been treated in the same way’.
The RSPB, which had warned of the implications of a massive cut to rural development, was still not happy, even though the final proposal was limited to a 5 per cent cut.
It said the Commission has ‘squandered a key chance to save Europe’s countryside and wildlife’. It pointed out that this was against the backdrop of an overall 5 per cent increase in the EU budget.
RSPB’s conservation director Martin Harper said:: “Last-minute campaigning efforts by us and our supporters have averted the toppling of funding for the environment. However, it’s clear this budget still lacks vision and doesn’t provide the foundation necessary for improving Europe’s environment.”