CoR members gave today overwhelming support to the draft opinion on the Future of the CAP after 2020 by PES member Guillaume Cros, Vice-President of the Regional Council of Occitanie (France). The opinion calls for a major reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), sending a strong political message to the European Commission, which is expected to put forward its proposals on the modernisation of the CAP before the end of the year.
Addressing CoR members, Guillaume Cros stressed: "The agricultural sector is faced with a series of challenges. We need to promote a prosperous, fair and sustainable CAP based on solidarity, if we want vibrant and innovative rural territories. The first step is to increase the attractiveness of the farmer's profession, by guaranteeing fair income and stable agricultural prices".
The draft opinion advocates regulating agricultural markets to prevent surpluses or shortfalls, refocusing the EU's agricultural trade policy towards exporting products with high added value, thereby empowering regions, and distributing profit margins more fairly between those operating supply chains, from producers to distributers.
Regarding the first pillar of the CAP, which deals with market interventions, coupled subsidies and direct income support, the rapporteur criticises the current unequal distribution of direct payments between farms, between regions and between Member States and calls for capping and modulating direct payments per agricultural worker, (understood as an active farmer) in order to legitimise public funding and develop smaller scale agricultural holdings that provide employment. "The fact that 80% of agricultural holdings receive only 20% of direct payments calls for a fairer and more legitimate distribution", Cros pointed out.
Likewise, he calls for reducing the gap in the levels of direct payments to Member States and strengthening greening through crop rotation, as well as transitioning towards pesticide-free crops and livestock farming on a human scale. "This substantial reform of the first pillar should also make it possible to bolster rural development policy and provide regional authorities with the flexibility to transfer more funding to the second pillar", he underlined.
His main requests on rural development, which constitutes the second pillar of the CAP, include support for young farmers and high quality local/regional supply chains of organic production, as well as the small-scale processing of products.
Last but not least, for non-agricultural activities in rural areas, he calls for the simplification and integration of various EU funds in order to enhance technical and social innovation as well as professional training, to maintain local public services and to address the digital divide.