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Reform of Common Agricultural Policy: Local and regional representatives warn of the risk of renationalising the CAP  

Responding to the Commission's Communication on the Future of Food and Farming, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) believes that the measures proposed are still inadequate to respond to the challenges facing farmers and rural areas. It regrets in particular the lack of will to regulate markets, the backtracking concerning the capping of direct payments and the risk of renationalising the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Following the Commission's recent adoption of a Communication on the Future of Food and Farming, the CoR president, Karl-Heinz Lambertz (BE/PES), welcomes the proposal to strengthen the synergy between the CAP and EU cohesion policy, as well as the possibility for European policies to make a greater contribution to developing rural areas, in line with the expectations of local and regional elected representatives. " These proposals will help preserve agriculture across the EU and keep rural areas alive, in order to meet the objective of territorial cohesion enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon ". However, the president regrets the fact that the Commission has still not committed to a European Rural Agenda, as already called for on several occasions by the Committee.

Regarding the financing of the CAP, the CoR welcomes the proposal to allow Member States more flexibility in order to enable them to transfer more funds from the first pillar (market support and direct aid) to the second pillar (rural development policy), without co-financing obligations. Nevertheless, it laments the fact that the Commission has backtracked on its assertion that national co-financing of the first pillar would be rejected. Such co-financing would amount to a de facto re-nationalisation of the CAP and would disadvantage farmers in the poorest EU Member States. It also laments the fact that the EUR 60-100 000 cap on direct farm payments, necessary for a fair CAP, is no longer mentioned in the Commission document.

Regarding the common organisation of markets, the European Commission apparently deems the changes introduced by the adoption of the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union to be sufficient ( Omnibus Regulation ). However, while this regulation will give more power to producer organisations thanks to the more flexible and uniform interpretation of competition rules within the EU, it will not be sufficient to prevent and tackle the high volatility of agricultural prices which is incompatible with good farm resilience. The CoR rapporteur for the opinion on the Future of the CAP after 2020 and vice-president of the Regional Council of Occitanie, Guillaume Cros (FR/PES), stresses in this connection that " market regulation is more effective and less costly than triggering crisis measures retroactively, and the false solution that is income insurance will benefit insurers more than farmers ".

Wioletta Wojewodzka

Tel. +32 2 282 22 89