Local governments are adjusting their views for the future reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) that sums 38% of the total EU budget. The NAT commission wants a better balance between direct payments and rural development and advocates for regulating agricultural markets to prevent structural surpluses and shortfalls. NAT members ask to refocus the EU's agricultural trade policy towards exporting products with high added value and distributing profit margins more fairly between producers and those operating supply chains. The EU is the first importer and exporter of food products in the world.
Over 80 members of the European Committee of the Regions have met in Palma de Mallorca on the occasion of the meeting of the Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) of EU's assembly of local and regional governments. The meeting was chaired by Francina Armengol (ES/PES), President of the Balearic Islands and NAT chair. After a year of presidency, Armengol said: ‘ it is an honor to chair the NAT commission as it deals with crucial important issues for territories, such as agriculture, rural development, civil protection, maritime affairs and tourism, key topics which have been in our agenda here in Palma. President Armengol added that ‘ the opinion on the CAP 2020 is well in line with many of the decisions and demands we have made from the Government of the Balearic Islands to foster a real change in agricultural policies. We welcome the adopted draft opinion as it also considers the specificities of islands.’
Guillaume Cros (FR/PES) , Vice-president of the Occitanie regional council is the rapporteur on the future of the CAP after 2020. Mr Cros said: ‘Without an income guaranteed by fair and stable agricultural prices, without a fairer distribution of public funding between agricultural holdings and Member States, without more sustainable modes of production, and without greater efforts to develop rural areas, the EU will not ensure prosperous agricultural holdings on a human scale, face environmental and public health-related challenges, develop vibrant rural areas and strengthen cohesion within the European Union.’
The adopted draft opinion on the CAP calls for a Rural Agenda that prioritises rural development in line with territorial cohesion goals and ensures a better balance between direct payments and rural development measures. Members aim to foster market-driven income opportunities for farmers and fairer food chains. The final text is to be adopted during the plenary session on 12 and 13 July. It will represent the CoR's contribution in advance of the publication by the European Commission of its Communication on the modernisation of the CAP, due by the end of the year.
Anthony Buchanan (UK/ EA) , member of the East Renfrewshire Council in Scotland saw his draft opinion on international ocean governance adopted. The NAT commission recalls that ocean regulatory frameworks such as fishing and exploitation affect coastal communities with challenges they are unable to meet. The CoR requests a Structured Dialogue on Ocean Governance with the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament to jointly develop new marine-related policy initiatives.
As a direct response to recent earthquakes in Italy, the NAT commission adopted a draft opinion entitled 'A European policy on the seismic requalification of buildings and infrastructure’ by Vito Santasiero (IT/PES), member of the Basilicata Regional Council. It calls on the European Commission to propose an action plan for the seismic requalification of buildings and infrastructure and urges Member States to include seismic requalification of existing buildings as a priority in regional development operational programmes. NAT members emphasise the need to earmark financial resources for this purpose, including appropriate incentives for seismic risk prevention work. A delegation of the CoR headed by President Markku Markkula visited last 24 May the Italian regions hit by the 2009 and 2016 earthquakes, in order to better understand how to make EU support more effective. In the EU, natural disasters have taken more than 80,000 lives and €95 billion over the last decade.
An exchange of views took place on the working document ‘Action Plan for a Maritime Strategy in the Atlantic area delivering smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ by rapporteur Jeremy Lundy (IE/EA) who recalled no specific funding is foreseen in the Atlantic Action Plan. In February, the European Commission requested the CoR to adopt an opinion on the mid-term review of the action plan, due by the end of this year.
The NAT commission appointed the rapporteurs of three upcoming opinions: Samuel Azzopardi (MT/EPP) on 'sustainable development of the blue economy in the western Mediterranean', Xamuel Gonzalez Westling (SE/PES) on 'development of deinstitutionalisation policies' and Enda Stenson (IE/EA) on the 'revitalisation of rural areas through smart villages'.
The next NAT commission meeting will take place in September in Brussels and will include a debate on the 'Future of Europe' to feed into the CoR's opinion on the issue which is currently being elaborated by CoR President Markku Markkula and first Vice-president Karl-Heinz Lambertz.
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