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Friday, 06 December 2013

23 Member States contest CAP reform implementation

A group of 23 countries* attacked the European Commission (EC) in an expert meeting, on 11 November, accusing it of ignoring the agreement on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) when drafting rules to implement the new measures. The member states have bandied together to try to make EFAs – Ecological Focus Areas – less ecologically focused. France, Spain, Poland and Italy were among those countries that backed the joint note to the Commission appealing it to “urgently correct” inconsistencies between the draft rules and the terms of the CAP agreement.
The principle behind EFA is that they help increase intensity of agro-ecological processes – like pollination, soil formation and conservation, regulation of water and nutrient cycles – for the whole agro-ecosystem of the farm and surrounding area. In order to deliver such environmental public goods, there must be appropriate conditions: if we want pollination, there should be no pesticides applied; if we want to prevent pollution from excess nutrients, no fertilisers should be applied.
The group claims draft rules for ecological focus areas (EFA) – farmland zones to be dedicated to preserving wildlife – would prevent farmers using fertilisers to grow protein crops, a measure that “clearly alters the legislator’s decision”. Member states must be allowed to produce crops on EFAs along forest edges, the group adds. A number of other technical rules would prevent farmers from gaining EFA status for land under protein crops, they say.
The countries also dispute proposed limits to the species of protein crops that are eligible for ‘coupled’ (production-linked) support. Meanwhile, the group says draft rules for young farmers could exclude two-thirds of them from getting the new support in some member states as they impose “very restrictive conditions”. “This was clearly not the intention of the co-legislators,” they say.
The coalition of 23 countries also raises concerns over the method employed to prevent farmers from being paid twice for the same environmental measures. “The objective and scope of the delegation that the Council and Parliament have specified in the basic acts should be fully respected,” they argue.

*The states are: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden.