CoR members today gave their overwhelming support to the draft opinion on the Reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) after 2020 by PES member Guillaume Cros, vice-president of the Regional Council of Occitanie (France). The opinion calls for a major CAP reform and sends a strong political message to the European Parliament, which is expected to vote on the opinion in early 2019.
The European Commission is proposing to reduce the budget for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) from 37.6% (2014-2020) to 28.5% (2021-2027). The EAFRD would therefore be the main victim of budget cuts, resulting in a cut of 28% for the second pillar (rural development).
Addressing CoR members, Guillaume Cros stressed that "the agricultural sector is faced with a series of major challenges, including the rise of Euroscepticism in rural areas where people feel left behind. If we want vibrant and innovative rural areas, we need to promote a prosperous, fair and sustainable CAP based on solidarity for the benefit of farmers, regions and consumers."
The rapporteur warned that application of the new governance scheme proposed by the European Commission risked jeopardising the invaluable management experience acquired over the years in many European regions, thus impeding the development of territorial systems based on their local specificities. He went on to emphasise that "the key role played by European regions in the management and implementation of the CAP must on the contrary be maintained and strengthened, in particular for the second pillar, in order to adapt political choices to specific territorial and sectoral characteristics".
Guillaume Cros also called for a more equitable distribution of direct payments, in particular through the mandatory introduction of redistributive payments, since this is the most effective mechanism for redistributing aid to small and medium-sized farmers.
He underlined the fact that "market regulation is more efficient and less costly than triggering retrospective measures in a volatile market" and reiterated the CoR's call for the establishment of tools to reduce production in the event of a serious market disturbance. Likewise, the rapporteur called for quantified objectives to be included in the regulation in order to ensure the effectiveness and harmonisation of national strategic plans.
Ahead of the vote in the European Parliament, the rapporteur will continue to cooperate closely with the EP's co-rapporteur, Eric Andrieu (PES/France).