In the wake of the massive budget cuts announced on 2 May and more free trade agreements damaging European agriculture a little more each day, the European Commission continues to give free rein to the market.
Successive Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) reforms adopted over the past 25 years have been devastating for farmers, employment, local economy and dangerous for our food security, the European Commission has not yet got the approach right. While welcoming the capping of aid, Socialist and Democrats deplore the lack of regulatory tools and are still concerned about the risk of renationalisation of the CAP.
The S&D spokesperson for agriculture and rural development, Eric Andrieu, said:
“In continuing with a liberal approach, the European Commission is abdicating its responsibilities as a regulator and failing to protect the integrity of the internal market. The conditions for recoupling are too strict and fail to provide real counter-cyclical aid and limits aid to crisis management delivered by the producer organisations.
“We call for a more protective and effective CAP that guarantees better food safety for consumers and stabilises markets for farmers. This means steering markets, redistributing aid more fairly and reorienting the CAP towards a more sustainable agriculture.
“We call for the implementation of regulatory measures to better control price volatility. Like the European project, the CAP needs new colours and a longer-term perspective. We call for the Union's agricultural policy to be more closely linked to food, human health, the fight against climate change, the protection of our environment, our local economies and employment.
“We need a fairer and more sustainable CAP. On this point, we can only welcome the fact that direct payments to farmers will be reduced from EUR 60 000 and capped for payments above EUR 100 000 per holding. Similarly, conditionality and greening requirements must be better adapted to accelerate the transformation of our production models. Voluntary coupled payments should be used to encourage diversification of production and encourage agricultural practices that limit inputs. We welcome stronger support mechanisms for young farmers to ensure generational renewal, which is essential if we want to keep our territories alive and ensure a transition of our agricultural model.
“In the face of these many challenges, the Socialists and Democrats once again condemn the irresponsible first pillar budget cut of 12% and 23% for rural development in constant euros over 2021-2027. We have to maintain the value of the current CAP budget.”
“With national strategic plans comes the risk of the renationalisation of our agricultural policy putting in danger a truly common policy. For real ecological transition, we need a common European reference base to encourage and help farmers to adopt more environmentally friendly practices.
“European agriculture needs a bold and innovative approach! We need an in depth reform, not the minimal change the European Commission is proposing today.”