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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Reform of CAP: sugar quotas to end in 2017

The  Council meeting on Agriculture and Fisheries held in Brussels on 18-19 March 2013 agreed to end the regime of sugar quotas in 2017, three years earlier compared to the 2020 expiry date proposed by the EP on March 13.
This was part of the general deal on the approach on the four main proposals for regulations within the framework of reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP): for rules for direct payments to farmers; for the common organisation of the markets in agricultural; for the support for rural development; and for the financing, management and monitoring of the CAP (horizontal regulation).

As regards greening, the deal contains amendments that provide additional flexibility demanded by Member States in relation to the greening of direct payments;  thus, the text provides for a progressive application of the crop diversification, adjusts the applicable minimum ratios of permanent grassland in relation to the total agricultural area, and allows for a graduated application of the Ecological Focus Area (EFA) requirement starting with 5%. However, as regards penalty, the administrative penalty imposed on farmers for non-compliance with the "greening" requirements shall not exceed 25% of the "green" payment.
However, environmentalists denounce the deal, saying it defied European Commission efforts to introduce mandatory ‘greening’ standards. IFOAM, which represents organic farmers welcomes the link of greening to the basic payment through stricter sanctions, but asked for the EU leaders to lift the environmental performance of all farmers by making greening mandatory.

Other key feature of the Council’s agreed position is the replacement of the vine planting rights regime with a system of authorisations that will run from 2019, for six years.
EFOW, the European Federation of origin wines, welcomed the deal reached by agriculture ministers, but asks that the new system to be permanent or of a longer duration far more important than the one proposed today. They also ask for market regulation and for a lasting regulation.

Slovakia and Slovenia, whose farm ministers argued that their countries did not get a fair deal, refused to sign the accord.
The agreement allows the negotiation process to move to the final, so-called ‘trilogue’, stage of the negotiations, to take place on 11 April, with a view to a political agreement in June this year.
The European Parliament voted on its position at first reading on the CAP reform package on 13 March 2013.

Source: EU council, Euractiv

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