Topic

A decent future for all farmers

17.02.2014 - 12:45
Farmer and businessman examining plant in field

With the adoption of the reform package for Europe's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the EPP Group has made sure European farmers have a safe future, get fairer conditions, respect environmental rules, and will continue to be able to provide 500 million EU consumers with high-quality foodstuff at affordable prices.

1 - A safe future for EU farming

The EPP Group has been the driving force for the CAP reform and has led negotiations with the Parliament as well as with the Council from the very beginning thanks to the original 2011 report by Group Coordinator Albert Dess, as well as the work of its two CAP reform rapporteurs Michel Dantin (single common market organisation) and Giovanni La Via (financing the CAP), and its two shadow rapporteurs Elisabeth Köstinger (rural development) and Mairead McGuinness (rules applicable to direct payments).

Ensuring a secure livelihood for European farmers is a key contribution to the EU's economy, with the farming and food sectors together providing 7% of all jobs and generating 6% of EU GDP. Europe's farmers are amongst the most productive in the world, supplying the EU with high-quality food at affordable prices as well as helping to protect our countryside and its natural resources.

The EPP Group thus strongly supported the final outcome of the CAP reform, which achieves far-reaching modernisation of the EU's farming legislation and will contribute to increasing the competitiveness of Europe's agriculture.

2 - A fairer CAP

A major achievement of the reform is the fairer distribution of direct payments between Member States, between regions and between farmers. 

  • Reduction of disparities: The disparities in support levels that exist across the EU will be progressively reduced. To ensure convergence, the distribution of the CAP budget will ensure that no single Member State receives less than 75% of the Community average by 2019.
  • EU income support to farmers will be better targeted and support only active farmers genuinely engaged in agricultural production. It will be adjusted in an objective manner to meet the needs of each farming sector, especially the most vulnerable ones.
  • More help to less-favoured areas: Increased amounts of aid will be allocated to less-favoured areas. It will be possible to allocate coupled payments for a limited number of products, with a specific 2% coupling for plant-based proteins, so as to make the EU less dependent on imports in this area.
  • Small farmers: A simplified aid scheme for small farmers will be available to the Member States that want one.

3 - Towards a modern and competitive farming sector

The new CAP rules are designed to give farmers the planning security they need in order to invest in state-of-the-art equipment and apply the latest farming methods. The amount of funding to support research, innovation and knowledge-sharing will be doubled, which will strongly contribute to making EU-farming more competitive.

4 - Support for young farmers

To bring life back to the countryside and encourage young European farmers to set up a business, the EPP Group has succeeded in introducing new rules giving young farmers more support to counter the alarming decline in young people taking over farms. In all Member States, young farmers will benefit from a 25% aid supplement during the first 5 years of their new business. This comes in addition to measures for young farmers aimed at promoting investment, innovation and transfer of skills. 

5 - A stronger position for farmers in the food production chain

To enable farmers to be reliable participants in the food production chain and find themselves in a stronger position in the face of large retailers, new possibilities will be opened up for them. This will improve the market orientation of European agriculture. 

  • Producer groups, producer organisations and inter-branch organisations will be promoted and competition rules tightened up.
  • Sugar quotas will be abolished by 2017, and the organisation of the sugar sector will be strengthened on the basis of contracts and mandatory inter-professional agreements.
  • In the wine sector, the planting rights system will be replaced as of 2016 by a dynamic planting-authorisation management mechanism, in which professionals are involved to a greater extent, with a fixed planting limit of 1% for vines per year.

6 - Promotion of rural development

The EPP Group successfully pushed for a rural development policy focussed on farming and farming-related activities to stimulate economic growth in rural areas. Rural development programmes will be better coordinated with other European funds and the sector-based approach will be replaced by a more adaptable national or regional strategic approach. 

7 - An environmentally-friendly CAP

The EPP Group has recognised the important contribution made by farmers from all over the EU to the environment through agri-environmental schemes (second pillar) and cross-compliance (first pillar), which are environmental requirements for receiving EU funding. The new CAP rules set balanced and simple measures to improve this contribution, without putting excessive burdens on farmers. Between 2014 and 2020, over €100 billion will be invested to help farming meet the challenges of soil and water quality, biodiversity and climate change.

8 - A good deal for European consumers

At the end of the chain, the reform of the CAP is good news for consumers, who will benefit from more affordable and high-quality foodstuffs circulating in the European market. We have become so used to fully-stocked supermarket shelves and bargain prices that we all too easily forget where our food comes from - and at what cost. Barely two generations ago, buying French cheese, Italian wine and Hungarian salami in any supermarket across our continent would have been unthinkable. Thanks to the EU's agricultural policy, consumers benefit from a wide range of choice at low prices.

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