Farming News - CAP negotiations continue to stir controversy

CAP negotiations continue to stir controversy

19 Jun 2012
Frontdesk / Machinery

An Italian MEP has proposed mitigating punishment for non-compliance penalties under the reformed Common Agricultural Policy. Giovanni La Via presented his report, Financing, management and monitoring of the CAP 2014-2020, to MEPs on the agriculture committee at a meeting yesterday.


The report suggests, amongst other things, introducing a ‘yellow card’ to act as a preliminary warning for farmers committing non-severe breaches of cross-compliance regulations, which would give them time to rectify the breach before incurring a penalty. His proposals cover rules relating to the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS), cross compliance, penalties and inspection regimes.


The NFU in the UK welcomed La Via’s recommendations; the union’s combinable crops chair Andrew Watts, who is engaged in lobbying in Brussels, said this morning that the La Via report was just as important as the report on direct payments, released concurrently. He suggested that the area of compliance will likely be amongst farmers’ principal concerns.


Watts said, “We are pleased that the report addresses a number of concerns raised by the NFU. It is extremely positive that Mr La Via envisages a risk-based and proportionate control and withdrawal system, particularly relating to technological failures of animal ID and registration. Mr La Via also agrees with the NFU that penalties for non-compliance of the greening requirement should not extend beyond the greening payment and that cross compliance rules should be streamlined.”


Meanwhile, German green groups have expressed fears that efforts to achieve genuine reform and reduce the impact of farming through CAP, in ways acceptable to the European public and in line with measures experts say need to be taken to escape the worst ravages of climate change, are gradually being eroded by industry lobbying and member states’ obstinacy.


Campaigners from the European Environmental Bureau yesterday lambasted EU leaders and claimed the European commission and Parliament had “Shown in reports presented today that they have no intention of using this round of reform of the CAP to tackle the damaging impacts of European farming.”


Faustine Defossez, EEB Agriculture Policy Officer yesterday offered scathing criticism of the CAP negotiation process, which she described as a “race to the bottom.” She said the European Commission’s initial proposals, released last autumn, whilst clearly imperfect, did offer ways in which European farmers could contribute to halting the decline in natural resources, but she regretted that “Under a pretext of simplification the proposal for greening is gradually being turned into a system of ‘money for nothing’ by the European Parliament and Council.”


She continued, “The list of ways to duck greening rules is growing by the day. It now seems that anyone who signs up to or invents a private, self-regulated scheme can dodge these rules. On the one hand the Council and the Parliament are trying to exempt as many farms as possible, on the other those that are left will have to comply with an empty shell of a greening package”.


EEB also warned that current proposals will lead to over abstraction of water resources, which are expected to become scarcer in many parts of the EU, and that there is not enough protection to ensure member states meet their self-set challenge of cleaning Europe’s water resources by 2015.


Nevertheless, yesterday MEPs did express support for retaining compulsory greening measures, which remain perhaps the most controversial aspect of the reformed CAP and upon compliance with which 30 per cent of claimants’ single payments will be based. MEPs opted to retain this option rather than introduce a ‘menu’ from which farmers could select certain options.


The majority of agriculture ministers, who attended a council meeting yesterday, remained opposed to tying 30 per cent of payments to environmental performance.


The European Parliament also asked for a minimum spend of 30 per cent on environmental measures from the Pillar 2, rural development section of the CAP.


French Green MEP José Bové warned that reports presented in the parliament on CAP reform would “Weaken already unambitious proposals from the Commission.” Bové warned that “If a majority of MEPs endorse this approach, it would render the CAP reform devoid of all meaning and the Parliament, as a co-legislator on CAP for the first time, would have contributed nothing to addressing some of the key problems which lead to the currently wasteful CAP subsidising intensive agriculture and unsustainable farming practices.”