CAP should be 'value for money' conference hears
TAXPAYERS need to see they are getting ‘real value for money’ from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) at a time of shrinking budgets and austerity across the EU, a conference heard.
European agricultural leaders said a combination of indecisiveness and delays in cementing the policy reform were not doing anything to raise the public’s perception of the industry.
They were speaking at the European Parliament as part of an event marking 50 years of the CAP.
It comes after the European Commission last week accepted the new direct payment regime would not come in until 2015, due to the length of time it was taking officials to reach agreement on the reform package.
Until now the Commission has stood firm by its original proposal to put the reformed CAP into action in January 2014.
Leader of the European Council of Young Farmers, Joris Baecke, said: “We have to show that Brussels is serious about a realistic CAP. We accept that it might be delayed one year, but the decision must not be delayed as it will make a bad signal to the public. We need an agreement by June next year on the CAP and it must be implementable at farm level.”
WWF’s head of European policy, Tony Long, said the organisation believed the CAP required a ‘radical transformation’ in order to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges of Europe’s food requirements and the needs of rural communities.
He said: “If we don’t get this reform right then the perception among the public will be that it is the right of the farmer to get the single biggest slice of the EU budget.”
Mr Long added the current CAP was ‘costly, old fashioned and regressive’.
“We can’t allow the public to carry on being duped that going on with agriculture in its present form is the way forward,” he said.
“The public is asking why and who should be receiving public money and rightfully asking where that scarce money is being spent. They should be seeing a return in that money. We want the public to regain trust in agriculture.”
Europe’s agricultural commissioner, Dacian Ciolos, confirmed his target for a final agreement on the reform was June 30, 2013.