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Monday, 22 November 2010

Future CAP: Agriculture Committee's first thoughts on Commission plans

European Commission plans to make EU farm policy fairer to farmers, and at the same time more responsive to public concerns, were welcomed by Agriculture Committee MEPs on November 18. However, MEPs also voiced concerns about how the plans could affect farmers, and the difficulty of putting them into practice. The need to "re-legitimise" the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP) in the eyes of public opinion, by "opening the policy to the concerns of our society" was stressed by Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos as he presented the Commission's "CAP towards 2020" communication to Agriculture Committee MEPs on Thursday. Committee chair Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT), assured Mr Ciolos of the committee's support, but also stressed that the Parliament is fully aware of its new legislative powers under the Lisbon Treaty.Taking up Parliament's July 2010 proposals to make direct payments fairer for farmers and Member States, the communication proposes a basic income support to provide a uniform level of aid, additional help for areas with natural constraints, and an (optional) national ceiling for payments received by large farms. The Commission also proposes to include a mandatory "greening" element in the direct payments system. While sharing the Commission's wish to retain the CAP's current two-pillar structure (direct payments and rural development), Parliament's rapporteur Albert Dess (EPP, DE), said "we must focus on the needs of our farming community" and "make sure money go to investment and not to bureaucracy".James Nicholson (ECR, UK), also urged the Commissioner to "address farmers' concerns, instead of creating red tape", particularly as regards proposed new environmental requirements, and stressed that the CAP is "a policy for farmers, to provide food supply, and not a social or environmental policy".Commissioner Ciolos replied that the future CAP will simplify, but make full use of, existing tools to enhance environmental sustainability.

Source: The European Parliament

 

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