Sunday

17th Feb 2019

Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus

  • Bulgarian minister of agriculture Rumen Porodzanov was unable to convince his colleagues from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia to support a joint declaration. (Photo: Pixabay)

Agriculture ministers were unable to reach consensus on a declaration on the future of the common agriculture policy at a meeting in Brussels on Monday (19 March) - the greatest area of discord being the distribution of subsidies.

Bulgarian minister of agriculture Rumen Porodzanov was unable to convince his colleagues from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia to support a joint declaration.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

However, he noted at a press conference afterwards that agreement by 23 out of 28 member states was not bad.

"In no case would I say that today's adoption of 'presidency conclusions' is disappointing," said Porodzanov, referring to the formal name of the declaration taken.

The text would have been called 'council conclusions' if it had been unanimously supported. It summarises the response of farming ministers to a European Commission strategy paper presented by the commission last November.

According to Porodzanov, the disagreement of the five central and eastern member states related to how agriculture subsidies are divided between member states.

"There is a difference between the average amount paid per hectare, a difference which comes into play when we talk about 'new' and 'old' member states," said the Bulgarian minister.

The average amount paid is generally higher in the – mostly western – member states that were in the EU before 2004. This reflects the substantial differences in average salaries and purchasing power that continue to exist within the EU.

Porodzanov noted that the five wanted fully equal subsidies across the bloc, something called "full external convergence" in EU-speak.

"I of course understand very well the member states who demanded this because they are responsible to their agriculture community," he said.

"They have to face their own community and explain these points so their position is not a surprise to us," he noted.

However, the five were not able to support the final compromise paragraph, which read that ministers "[recognised] the different views of member states on the subject of external convergence of direct payments".

The EU's agriculture commissioner, Irishman Phil Hogan, said that a text supported by 23 member states was "a very good outcome".

"It is a pity that ministers were unable to show the necessary flexibility to have unanimity," he added.

It depends on the budget

The commissioner noted that the future of the agriculture subsidies relied on the outcome of negotiations on the EU's multi-annual financial framework (MFF), which in turn depends on whether member states are willing to pay more into the budget after Brexit.

"The external convergence of direct payments: it's very difficult to get agreement if you don't know what the MFF is," said Hogan. Discussions on the MFF however are above the seniority of the agriculture ministers, but are determined by the EU's presidents and prime ministers.

"The budget is tied very much into what the final outcome will be on the issues around external convergence," he said, adding that his colleague responsible for the budget will present a proposal on 2 May.

The presidency conclusions, not yet published as of Tuesday morning but seen by this website, 'acknowledged' that more MFF discussions were needed.

The text also referred to the commission plan to give member states more room for manoeuvre when implementing the EU's farming policy.

The text welcomed the idea, but stressed that it must not lead to fragmentation. In a last-minute addition, the ministers added the phrase "pending further information from the commission".

The idea itself was only presented in a non-binding strategy paper.

Hogan said on Monday that he expected to propose legislation to reform the common agriculture policy "end of May or early June".

Visual Data

EU farming policy: The damage done by 20 years of inertia

The EU Commission will ask the public later this week how the common agricultural policy should be overhauled. Data from the past two decades reveals a catalogue of missed chances and failed reforms.

Opinion

Progressive CAP alternative only hope for sustainability

We see the new CAP as spelling the death of rural communities, the acceleration of the rural exodus, the consolidation of big agribusinesses, jeopardising public health standards and turning binding climate change targets into optional goals for member states.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Opinion

Eastern Europe Matters

The foreign ministers of Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic reflect on 10 years of the Eastern Partnership with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us