In its opinion adopted at last Friday's plenary session, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) stressed the strategic importance of the future common agricultural policy (CAP). The mayors and presidents who make up the CoR's membership call for a fairer CAP, leaving room for more regulation. They also stressed the need for sustainable European agriculture and for the policy's implementation to be tailored as closely as possible to realities on the ground.
"European agriculture will have to overcome major challenges in the years and decades to come, including food security, environmental protection, climate change, preservation of the rural environment and farmers' standard of living. It is therefore a fundamental issue for Europe, especially as agricultural land covers 47% of European territory and Europe has almost 12 million farms, of which 70% are small farms of less than five hectares," declared René Souchon (PES, France), president of the Auvergne region and CoR rapporteur for the opinion on the future of the CAP, which was adopted by a large majority.
The opinion deals with all of the European Commission's proposals, presented in October 2011, for the reform of the CAP after 2013.
In order to overcome the numerous challenges facing European agriculture, the CoR sets forth its views on several key aspects of the future CAP:
CoR members also call for the CAP to be rolled out as closely as possible to the regional level:
The adopted opinion must now be sent to the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament which will continue to study the legislative proposals.
Furthermore, the European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, which had heard Mr Souchon's views on 29 February, stated that it was very interested in the strategies proposed in his working document and invited him to come back to present the finalised opinion. The rapporteur should therefore present the CoR opinion at a forthcoming meeting of the Parliamentary committee. The Committee would probably not adopt the reports before the autumn, and by January at the earliest, at the first reading of the European Parliament's plenary session, following the agreement on the multiannual financial framework expected in December.