Ciolos criticised over CAP reform confusion
EU plans for CAP reform were in the firing line this week as farming leaders rallied to assess the real implications of the changes, dubbed by one MEP as a ‘huge bureaucratic monster’.
Confusion over plans announced by EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos prompted the meeting in Brussels to discuss the proposals, in particular direct payments for farmers.
An NFU Brussels spokesman said: “There has been widespread criticism of the CAP reform proposals since Mr Ciolos presented them a fortnight ago. We believe they are complicated, confused and anti-competitive.”
Mr Ciolos faced a barrage of criticism from MEPs, who questioned the detail of the reforms and how a new payment system could be fully operational by 2014 when there was still such a long way to go.
It came after Defra Secretary Caroline Spelman waded into the debate at an EU Council of Ministers meeting in Luxembourg last week.
Mrs Spelman argued the Commission’s plans to green Pillar One of the CAP were ‘bureaucratic’ and, in places, ‘unworkable’ and reiterated the UK Government’s belief the CAP’s environmental elements should be focused in ‘targeted’ Pillar Two rural development schemes.
The Minister also outlined the UK’s opposition to proposals to cap the biggest payments, arguing this would ‘lead to the fragmentation of farms, which reduces their competitiveness and market orientation’.
“I am concerned the Commission’s environmental ambitions focus on direct payments of Pillar One and not the proven mechanisms of under Pillar Two,” she added.
Defra Ministers were seeking to reinforce alliances with member states like the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, who they believe share their desire for radical reforms of the CAP.
The decision on the reform package will only be taken once MEPs have received more information about how it is going to be funded.