The European Commission’s proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) need to go further in order to deal with the twin challenges of international food security and protecting our wildlife and biodiversity, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said yesterday.
The UK wants farm subsidies to steadily reduce in order to improve value for the taxpayer and help farming become more competitive to meet future demand for food as the global population increases. But the Commission’s proposal yesterday is based on a CAP budget frozen for 2014 to 2020, at £47 billion a year.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:
“We’re pleased that the European Commission has at least listened to the message from the UK that the CAP has to do more to help the environment, and that its budget cannot keep increasing in the midst of an economic crisis.
“But while some of the Commission’s rhetoric is right, overall we’re disappointed and the proposals as they stand could actually take us backwards. So the UK will be working hard with the Commission, European Parliament, and other Member States to achieve the best deal for farmers, taxpayers and the environment.”
The UK also wants farmers’ valuable protection of the countryside to be better rewarded through targeted payments. But the Commission said it instead wants to pay only for basic measures, which would achieve far less and could impose pointless bureaucracy.
Negotiations will begin next week at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council. The UK will now be working to help the European Commission realise the ambition of a simpler CAP that provides real benefits for the environment and improves the competitiveness of the farming industry.
The European Commission’s proposals for CAP reform are available at: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/cap-post-2013/legal-proposals/index_en.htm