Britain and Poland have called for radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), ahead of the European Commission’s publication of proposals for change. The two countries share ambitious plans for reform, centred on a more competitive agriculture sector and better incentives to improve the environment.
The UK wants farm production subsidies to be reduced in the new CAP to create a more competitive farming industry that is not reliant on any direct subsidies. This will require a process of transition towards better returns from the market, with any remaining CAP funds rewarding farmers for the valuable benefits they provide - for wildlife, people and the landscape.
UK Agriculture Minister Jim Paice and Polish Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki issued a joint statement today following an EU agriculture meeting in Brussels. The statement called for modernisation of European agriculture to meet the challenges of the future rather than a system that protects outdated practices of the past.
The UK has been engaging with other Member States in the run up to the Commission publishing its proposals on the future of the CAP between 2014 and 2020, which are expected to appear in October this year.
The UK’s latest position on CAP is published at: archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/policy/capreform/documents/110128-uk-cap-response.pdf.
The full text of the statement reads as follows:
The UK and Poland call for deep and genuine reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to deliver increased competitiveness across the whole of the EU agricultural sector, with a view to preparing for the challenges and opportunities of 2050 and beyond. Reform should prepare European agriculture for the future rather than protecting practices whose time is past. We are seeking reform and simplification of the CAP that ensures that EU farm businesses can be viable and - once again - leaders in world markets.
Central to our approach is a reduced emphasis on Pillar 1, and a convergence of direct payment rates, so that all Europe’s farmers are incentivised to produce for the market. This should be accompanied by a step change in measures to increase farm competitiveness, including support under Pillar 2. Increasing the proportion of CAP funding spent under Pillar 2 would be an effective way of ensuring that CAP spending was well targeted.
Both the UK and Poland recognise that to achieve future international competitiveness, particularly in light of the debate on further trade liberalisation, requires continued support for the modernisation and restructuring of farms through instruments under the second pillar of the CAP. We will push for ambitious reform of the CAP that will enable the sector to respond to and earn improved returns from the global market.The CAP should help to build capacity, competitiveness and resilience.
In addition, we believe the positive environmental dimension of modernization, enabling changes towards agricultural production technologies which are more environmentally friendly, should be emphasised. Measures to increase competitiveness can and should work with and, where possible, support the provision of environmental public goods. Therefore we believe that Pillar 2 is a good base on which to build. We need modernisation and innovative solutions to improve competitiveness and environmental outcomes, such as climate mitigation and biodiversity. Agri-environment schemes are well placed to deliver targeted and flexible actions which can contribute to both outcomes.
In relation to financing, we call on the Commission to propose a fair distribution under both pillars, which moves away from current historic allocations to objective criteria. We also believe that, given the imbalances in spending power between Member States, too much freedom for Member States to top up their direct payments with additional national contributions would lead to creeping re-nationalisation of the CAP, and should be avoided.