Commission mulls over the capping of aid in CAP reform

November 11th, 2017 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

Rose O'Donovan - Letter From Brussels

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THE EU’s executive is mulling over the introduction of capping direct payments, but rules out any national co-financing for direct aid under the 1st Pillar - especially if made optional - as it would endanger the smooth functioning of the internal market for agricultural and food products, according to a leaked draft of the future CAP Communication post-2020 circulating earlier this month. 

My publication Agra Facts was the first to break the story on details of the 21-page draft text entitled ‘The Future of Food & Farming,’ which will feed into the final Communication on future farm policy due to be unveiled on November 29th. 

For the time being, the draft text does not include policy options, but spells out the ‘next steps in the CAP’s evolution – modernising and simplifying and working hand in hand with other EU policies – to meet a wide range of pressing challenges and bring out the very best from the Union’s farm sector … with a greater focus on results.’ An impact assessment would follow next spring, while legislative proposals are expected to be tabled in the second semester of 2018. 

One of the most interesting aspects included in the text - still subject to change before it enters the Commission’s internal consultation process - is the idea of capping farm payments. At a time of unprecedented pressure on the Community budget and increased scrutiny of the CAP’s share, the Commission is pushing for a ‘more balanced distribution of support,’ as ‘direct payments will fulfil their mission more effectively and efficiently if they are simplified and better targeted.’ 

In a series of possibilities to be explored, DG AGRI officials float the idea of compulsory capping, with a maximum direct aid amount per beneficiary in the range between €60,000 and €100,000, ‘taking into account labour to avoid negative effects on jobs.’ Authors foresee ‘enhanced support to smaller farms, notably through a redistributive payment,’ with a ‘focus on those who depend on farming for their living.’

The CAP ‘should also continue to reduce the difference in average support rates between Member States, contributing to minimising the East-West divide in support,’ authors of the draft outline. ‘All farmers face the same challenges … even if the wide diversity of relative costs of labour and land as well as the different agronomic potentials across the EU should be acknowledged,’ they add. 

Further discussions on the long-awaited file will continue later this month.  

Further five-year glyphosate 

(Roundup) renewal proposed

THE Commission is poised to table a proposal for the renewal of approval of glyphosate – the active ingredient in the world’s most widely-used weedkiller Roundup – for a further five years at a Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food & Feed (PAFF) on November 9th. 

Member States failed to deliver a clear position on a 10-year reauthorisation on October 25th. The EU executive is hoping to secure a majority in favour of the limited renewal, before the license for the chemical compound expires at the end of the year. 

Organic chemist John E Franz discovered the herbicide when working at the Monsanto Company in 1970. Since its discovery, there has been a 100-fold increase in the frequency of applications and volumes of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) applied. If there is no re-approval, the multinational chemical giant, could take the Commission to court. 

A delegation from over 100 organisations supporting the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) on glyphosate met with EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis on October 23rd. The petition was the fastest-ever ECI, with over one million signatures collected across Europe between February and July 2017. 

The ECI calls on the EU’s executive to ban glyphosate, reform the pesticide approval process and set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use. 

•  Rose O’Donovan is Editor-in-Chief of the Brussels based publication AGRA FACTS and has been following the evolution of European farm policy for over ten years. 

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