MEPs Make Sense of Record CAP Amendments

EU - The European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee’s key decision makers on the CAP reform have now informally agreed the content of around 100 compromise amendments.
calendar icon 21 December 2012
clock icon 3 minute read
National Farmers Union

MEPs tabled almost 7,500 individual amendments to the European Commission’s original CAP reform proposals. Since September, when the process of pulling compromises together began, NFU staff, officeholders and members have been in constant dialogue with Parliament’s decision makers in order to influence the shape of those compromises.

As part of those efforts, NFU president Peter Kendall led a high level delegation to Strasbourg in November to meet over 20 of the key players and the NFU’s office in Brussels has co-ordinated all of the European lobbying activities with colleagues across the organisation.

Mr Kendall said: “The MEPs involved in the CAP talks have done a remarkable job making sense of the record-breaking number of amendments tabled earlier this year. MEPs set themselves an ambitious internal deadline of the end of the year and I am pleased that they have managed to knock the bulk of the amendments, into a more meaningful, workable and acceptable shape.

“A huge part of the NFU’s European lobbying focus has been on addressing the unnecessary bureaucracy and costs associated with the Commission’s proposals. That NFU effort is paying off. We are seeing significant progress in policy areas such as making the greening requirements more practical and workable, addressing concerns with the bureaucratic active farmer test, ensuring greater flexibility around payment entitlements, securing a workable national reserve which is accessible to new entrants as well as young entrants, maintaining the vital elements of the sugar regime that give growers counter-weighting balances in the market and the introduction of a much needed proportionate penalty system.

“It’s excellent that we have made progress with MEPs in many areas, but some parts of the compromise package remain very concerning to us. For example, giving member states greater scope to make coupled support payments, attempts to introduce market supply measures in the dairy sector and the efforts by some member states to hold on indefinitely to the higher payment levels associated with the historic payment model.

“The framework is slowly taking shape at EU level, but history proves that the real impact of CAP reform comes from the decisions that our own Government will take when it implements the policy. Defra has been lobbying hard for the power to reduce direct payment made to farmers by up to 20 per cent. It’s an incredibly hollow victory, but I am relieved that MEPs would limit the amount Defra could transfer in theory to a maximum of 15 per cent and would require that money to be match funded by the Treasury.

“I am also concerned that Defra will attempt to opt-out of the European system of greening and implement a more demanding and costly form of “ELS light” for English farmers, increasing the regulatory burden imposed on farmers. The NFU has fought hard in the Parliament to make sure that farmers in schemes such as ELS will have those efforts recognised and I am pleased that MEPs agree that farmers undertaking agri-environment schemes should be automatically entitled to the greening payment.

“The number one priority for the NFU remains fairness of treatment. Whatever the final outcome of the CAP discussions, the conditions placed on English farmers must be equivalent to those faced by their main competitors. The ideological policy stance of UK Government with regards to the CAP policy should not be allowed to put our farmers at a competitive disadvantage compared to other European farmers.”

While the majority of those involved in the process have now agreed informally to the compromises, the next step is for those and some additional stand-alone amendments, to be put to a vote of the full Agriculture Committee.

This is scheduled to take place January 23-24 2013. The Agriculture Committee’s draft report will then be sent to the plenary of the European Parliament in order to agree the European Parliament’s negotiating position ahead of crunch talks in 2013 on the future CAP.

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