CAP: Labour MEPs Disappointed by Overall Lack of Radical Reform15 March 2013
UK - Following votes in the European Parliament on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) yesterday (13 March), Labour MEP Brian Simpson welcomed the greater transparency on agriculture spending but said he would have liked to see much more radical reform overall.
The CAP accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the EU budget and MEPs voted to determine how these funds should be spent in the period from 2014 to 2020.
In the run up to the vote, Labour worked with MEPs from across Europe to put forward ambitious environmental proposals, with a better deal for UK farmers and rural communities in Britain.
Mr Simpson said: "Farming is a vital industry in the UK and the EU as whole, so Labour MEPs want to see an agricultural policy that is environmentally friendly, sustainable for rural communities and fully fit for the future.
"I'm delighted that we have been able to achieve reforms in some key areas, including on the controversial issues of transparency.
"We believe that there should be full disclosure on how CAP money is being spent, so we proposed that information on the beneficiaries of European agriculture funds should be published and we are delighted that the majority of MEPs supported our stance.
"However, we're extremely disappointed that other crucial reforms were rejected by MEPs in favour of sticking with the status quo."
Labour called for a greater focus on rural development and an end to unfair, inefficient spending. Labour MEPs also highlighted a crucial need for Europe's agriculture policy to be greener, so proposed stronger environmental protection requirements that farmers must meet in order to qualify for funding.
Mr Simpson added: "We wanted to see reforms that would improve the competitiveness of rural areas, protect biodiversity and ensure that the CAP gives farmers the support they need whilst benefiting society at large.
"Unfortunately these reforms were rejected by the Parliament, leaving us no option but to vote against the current CAP proposals as they stand."
EU negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy will continue in the coming months, with MEPs expected to vote on updated proposals from the European Commission in June or July.
Mr Simpson concluded: "A competitive and productive agricultural sector is more important than ever and Labour will keep pushing for the radical reforms that will deliver real public benefit.
"Our priority is making sure that agriculture practices in Europe are green and sustainable, to protect the environment and guarantee the future of Europe's food production."
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