Tuesday

24th Nov 2020

EU farm chief unconcerned by budget review

European commissioner for agriculture Dacian Ciolos has said last month's EU budget review poses no threat to the future size of the EU's farm policy, despite arguably contradictory phrases contained inside the document.

"I think the review is very clear that the common agricultural policy (CAP) must remain a strong policy with a strong budget," the Romanian politician told EUobserver on Thursday (4 November) in the margins of a civil society event in Brussels.

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  • European commissioner for agriculture Dacian Ciolos (Photo: European Parliament)

"We can not decrease the influence of a common policy just when we need strong common instruments at EU level," he added.

Last month's review of EU spending suggested the CAP may continue to see its slice of the EU budget decline, in line with recent trends.

"A series of reforms to the common agricultural policy has seen ... the share of the CAP in the overall budget falling steadily in recent years," said the EU budget review published on 19 October. "Continuing the trend would still leave agriculture representing a major public investment."

An EU official denied this implied a need for a further reduction in farm spending however, describing how the phrase was painstakingly redrafted to soften earlier language.

But another official working closely with the agricultural brief said: "We would have preferred the paragraph not to have been included. Still, the document is a lot better to what was being considered 12 months ago."

The commission's imminent communication on CAP reform assumes the policy's budget will remain stable at roughly €55 billion a year, although DG agriculture officials acknowledge they will have to fight to defend this figure from their jealous colleagues in other departments.

"Some in the college [of commissioners] don't understand why roughly 40 percent of the money should go to agriculture," one EU official recently told this website, insisting that the CAP represented good value for money when reduced national spending was taken into account.

Away from the internal commission pressure, member states are also preparing to do battle with EU institutions over the size of the bloc's next multi-annual budget (post-2013), to which future farm spending will be closely linked.

Several governments have already called for national austerity to be matched at the supranational level.

Chief among them is the UK, with London insisting a smaller EU budget in the next 'financial perspectives' - as the budgetary period is known - can still produce greater results.

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