Commission confirms plans for ‘greener’ CAP
THE European Commission has confirmed its intention to develop a ‘greener’ Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2013.
In a Communication published today, the Commission outlines plans for a new policy for the period 2013-2020 it says would deliver better value for money for taxpayers.
The document, which that retains most of the core elements of a leaked version in October, states the Commission’s intention to retain two pillars of the CAP.
But, under pillar one, annual direct payments would be reformed to include a ‘green’ element, more equity in their distribution between member states.
Direct payments would be composed of:
- A basic rate serving as income support.
- A compulsory additional aid for specific “greening” public goods through simple, generalized, annual and non-contractual agri-environmental actions based on the supplementary costs for carrying out these actions.
- An additional payment to compensate for ‘specific natural constraints’.
- A voluntary coupled support component for specific sectors and regions.
Payments levels would be linked to area only, with no reference to historical payments. There would be a new scheme for small farms and a capping of the basic rate, although this would take into account the contribution large farms make to rural employment.
There are plans to make pillar two, rural development payments, more aligned with EU priorities, with support focused on environment, climate change and/or restructuring and innovation, and to enhance regional initiatives.
The paper includes plans to target support towards ‘active farmers’ only and measures to simplify the CAP. The intention to improve and simplify existing market instruments where appropriate’ is also outlined.
The Communication proposes three broad options for the future direction of the CAP, ranging from retaining the current system of direct payments to phasing direct payments out altogether. The second option, which the Commission favours, proposes ‘substantial changes’ to direct payments to ensure they are more equitably distributed.
In all 3 options, the Commission foresees the maintaining two pillars, with Pillar One covering annual direct payments and market measures and a Pillar Two comprising multi-annual rural development measures.
Outlining the Communication today, EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş stressed the importance of making the CAP ‘greener, fairer, more efficient and more effective’.
He said: “The CAP is not just for farmers, it is for all EU citizens – as consumers and taxpayers. It is therefore important that we design our policy in a way which is more understandable to the general public and which makes clear the public benefits that farmers provide to society as a whole. European agriculture needs to be not only economically competitive, but also environmentally competitive.”
Following discussion of the ideas, the Commission will present formal legislative proposals in mid-2011.