2nd Jul 2020

Green Deal

Row looming over 8.8 percent cut in CAP budget

  • 'The reduction of some 8.8 percent in direct support in real terms in a period where so much pressure and expectation is put on farmers is simply unacceptable,' said the president of the agricultural organisation Copa (Photo: Jan Fidler)

Members from the European Parliament's committee on agriculture welcomed on Tuesday (2 June) the updated proposal of the European Commission for the EU's long-term budget - but urged enough funding to help farmers recover from the coronavirus crisis and increase the sector's resilience.

The EU Commission's proposal announced last week a €348.3bn Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) budget - with extra €15bn funding for rural development to support agro-ecology and strengthen nature protection.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

This last proposal represents a nearly nine-percent cut compared to the exiting CAP funding for 2014-2020, but a slightly increased amount in comparison to the proposal of the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, being discussed last February.

However, these figures are presented in the commission's proposal in 'constant 2018 prices' represented by their value in the year 2018 - what has triggered a complex discussion in the EU bubble.

The row matters because CAP still consumes over one-third of the EU budget.

Earlier this year, the parliament warned that the financing of the CAP should remain unchanged in the EU-27 context as cutting the money on agriculture policy leaves citizens "undefended".

"We can't go backwards," socialist MEP Paolo De Castro said on Tuesday (2 June), referring to the potential cuts for the CAP expenditure beyond 2020.

"The Covid-19 spread has had a dramatic impact on farmers and food producers. They need our support," he tweeted.

Following the recently announced Biodiversity and Farm to Fork Strategies, European farmers and agri-cooperatives said that possible cuts in the CAP budget are 'unacceptable' as more requirements are imposed on farmers.

"The reduction of some 8.8 percent in direct support in real terms in a period where so much pressure and expectation is put on farmers is simply unacceptable," said the president of the agricultural organization Copa, Joachim Rukwied.

However, according to EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn, the updated budget for agriculture policy will make farms "green, digital and more resilient".

"We must use the firepower of the next MFF [EU's long-term budget] and the next generation recovery instrument to make sure that green becomes a viable business model for all our farmers," said Hahn, arguing that as "it is very difficult to become green when the figures on the bottom line are red".

Commissioner Hahn also called on MEPs to also conclude their work on the post-2020 reform of the CAP.

Which price?

Meanwhile, agriculturally sensitive countries like France and Spain have welcomed the commission proposal as a step in the right direction.

The total funding for the CAP would constitute €391.4bn in 'current' or 'nominal' prices (according to 2020 prices) - which means that that the sector will receive two percent more funds each year than it received in 2020, according to the commissioner of agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski.

For Wojciechowski, this increment will enable the green and digital transition of the agricultural sector - ensuring funding for organic farming, less intensive livestock and more sustainable agriculture practices.

"More money it is more possibilities to support farmers and more opportunities to take action," he said.

For France, the proposal is a "success" for the actions carried out by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to maintain the CAP as a priority European policy.

"Europe, united, has adopted a recovery plan on the scale of the crisis that we face," the French ministry for agriculture and food said in a statement.

The commission's proposal provides a "good basis" for the upcoming negotiations, according to the Spanish minister for agriculture, Luis Planas, who is positive about reaching an agreement in the council and parliament soon.

Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU

Europe is on the verge of allowing centralisation and concentration of farming data at an unprecedented scale, with the absence of any regulation, NGO Friends of the Earth have warned.


Europe needs a greener Common Agricultural Policy

Two Danish ministers - for environment, and for food and fisheries - call on the EU to reconsider the unintended consequences of zoning rules and income support in the Common Agricultural Policy.

CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find

The European Court of Auditors has urged the European Commission to establish measurable commitments to tackle biodiversity loss caused by intensive farming - as the Common Agriculture Policy has so far failed to reverse this long-standing issue.


EU budget: Don't repeat the austerity of 2008

European leaders have a historic choice on Friday when they dial-in to discuss how to stop a health crisis turning into a social one: will they learn the lessons of 2008, or opt again for austerity and short-term self-preservation?

News in Brief

  1. China to block Hong Kong exiles fleeing to UK
  2. EU stuck with Putin until 2036
  3. Malaysia pushes to keep selling palm oil to EU
  4. Austria raises corona alert on Western Balkans
  5. Turkey poised to convert Istanbul museum into mosque
  6. France leaves Nato operation after clash with Turkish ships
  7. EU Commission sets up skills agenda for next five years
  8. Bundestag gives floor to 'disgrace' Schröder on pipeline

East vs West split in EU on higher Green Deal target

Eight EU countries on Tuesday called on the European Commission to strengthen the Green Deal, while central and eastern Europe remain cautious - citing different starting positions and deepen inequalities.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us