Tuesday

4th Oct 2022

MEPs warn Barroso against slashing EU farm budget

  • MEPs said they wanted a greener and less bureaucratic CAP in the future (Photo: caese)

MEPs have said they do not support a large-scale reduction in funding for rural development schemes, amid reports that the European Commission may aim to make savings in this area in next week's highly-anticipated multi-annual budget proposals.

"We said quite clearly to [European Commission President Jose Manuel] Barroso today that we don't agree with him," Albert Dess told journalists on Thursday (23 June) after euro-deputies adopted by a large majority his report setting out parliament's position on reforming the common agricultural policy (CAP).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

"Some people have being saying that the second pillar [of the CAP which funds rural development] should be hugely cut. We clearly said that the second pillar should be maintained."

The CAP and EU structural funds take up the lion's share of the EU's roughly €120 billion annual budget, making them an obvious target for cuts next week as the commission looks to increase funding for research and transport infrastructure, for example.

EU commissioners are scheduled to sit down next Wednesday morning and thrash out exactly where money will be allocated under the next spending period (2014-2020), with the debate potentially lasting into Thursday.

A commission source said slashing pillar two of the CAP was just one of several ideas under consideration, but suggested it was highly unlikely to win out.

"The guys upstairs will have looked at every option including a reduction in the CAP's second pillar. That doesn't mean it has been picked," they said.

On Wednesday EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos told MEPs not to worry. "Rest assured, the commission president, the college [of 27 commissioners] and I lay great store by the two pillars," he told the euro-deputies.

Under the current system, roughly 75 percent of EU farm funds are given to farmers in the form of direct annual payments and emergency support (pillar one) in times crisis, for instance when milk prices fall below a certain level.

The remaining 25 percent is directed towards farmers who engage in additional environmental projects such as the preservation of endangered wetlands or the planting of hedgerows to stem biodiversity loss.

By adopting the Dess report on Thursday, MEPs also said they wanted a greener and less bureaucratic CAP in the future, and one that resulted in a fairer distribution of direct payments between member states. Direct payments currently range from over €500 per hectare in Greece to less than €100 in Latvia.

The debate in Brussels came as G20 farm ministers wrapped up two days of talks on rising agricultural commodity prices and the dangers of a global food crisis similar to 2008, when riots broke out in Haiti and parts of Asia.

Ministers agreed to exclude humanitarian aid from export restrictions, and explore the implementation of humanitarian food aid stocks, but the deal fell short of French calls to crack down on commodity speculators.

The meeting also ducked the increasingly controversial issues of biofuels, simply calling for more studies on the issue.

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter blasted the pussyfooting. "There is a consensus among international agencies that biofuels production ... has been a major factor in the price increases of basic food commodities over the past four years," he said.

"That the G20 still insists on the need for more studies ... shows how commercial interests can trump the concern for food security."

Brussels fires first shot in overhaul of EU farm policy

The European Commission on Wednesday released keenly awaited proposals to overhaul its farm policy from 2014, capping payments to single farms and obliging the EU's 12 million landowners to become greener. But CAP reformists say they don't go far enough.

EU parliament reminds governments of new budget powers

As member-state wrangling over the next multi-annual budget gets underway, parliament is keen to remind governments that the time-honoured tradition of sleepy-eyed leaders announcing a deal within spitting distance of the deadline will no longer be possible.

Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy

"[…] We were astonished that on election day, the high representative for Bosnia imposed significant further changes to the constitution,"German MEP Andreas Schieder, head of the European Parliament election observation delegation to Bosnia said on Monday.

Exclusive

EU officials were warned of risk over issuing financial warning

The European watchdog for systemic economic risk last week warned of "severe" threats to financial stability — but internal notes show top-level officials expressed "strong concerns" over the "timing" of such a warning, fearing publication could further destabilise financial markets.

News in Brief

  1. Czechs warn joint-nationality citizens in Russia on mobilisation
  2. Greece to unveil proposal for capping EU gas prices
  3. Four dead, 29 missing, after dinghy found off Canary Islands
  4. Orbán: German €200bn shield is start of 'cannibalism in EU'
  5. Lithuania expels top Russian diplomat
  6. Poland insists on German WW2 reparations
  7. Russia halts gas supplies to Italy
  8. Bulgaria risks hung parliament after inconclusive vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy
  2. EU wants probe into alleged Nagorno-Karabakh war crimes
  3. EU officials were warned of risk over issuing financial warning
  4. EU debates national energy plans amid calls for more coordination
  5. What Modi and Putin’s ‘unbreakable friendship’ means for the EU
  6. EU leaders have until Friday for refugee resettlement pledges
  7. Cities and regions stand with citizens and SMEs ahead of difficult winter
  8. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us