Sunday

18th Nov 2018

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

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

"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.

Agenda

Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK

All eyes on London this week, where May struggles to hold onto power against Brexit rebels, while EU leaders meet in Brussels on Sunday to try to clinch agreement.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us