23 of 28 member states support draft paper on CAP reform post-2020

A total of 23 of the 28 members states have agreed on the commission’s draft paper on ‘The Future of Food and Farming’ post-2020.

Following today’s meeting of EU ministers for agriculture at the European Council in Brussels, it has been revealed that there is total unanimity among member states in support for voluntary coupled supports (payments linked to production).

However, five member states failed to reach consensus on the distribution of payments.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia are calling for full external convergence – which refers to making the policy fairer between member states through reduced/targeted funding.

Speaking at a press conference this evening, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan described the council’s conclusions as “a step forward”.

“We have achieved agreement on the council’s conclusion of the commission’s communication. It is a pity that some ministers were not able to show the flexibility to have unanimity.

“But, I think we all understood that this wasn’t going to be easy in the context of the issue in particular on the issue of external convergence of direct payments.

Reaching conclusions with 23 out of 28 members states is a very good outcome and a good balance between the members states on a wide range of issues – a number of which are clearly very sensitive.

“It’s difficult to get full agreement when you don’t know what the MFF [Multi-annual financial framework] is and the budget is tied very much into what the final outcome will be on external convergence,” he said.

The commission will continue to work very closely with the European Council over the coming months in preparation for the publication of its legal proposals on CAP reform post-2020.

While clarity on the shape of the total EU budget is expected on May 2; Commissioner Hogan anticipates that the commission’s set of legal proposals will be available at the end of May or early June.

The commissioner described the outcome of getting 28 member states to support the text of voluntary coupled support as “a great achievement“.

I think that this is a step forward in acknowledging that there will be sectoral difficulties from time to time that require specific support.

“But, there will be a framework by which we can judge this in the future around sustainability; around competitiveness; around viability,” he said.

Food chain fairness

Meanwhile, the commissioner noted that a new regulation aimed at stamping out unfair business practices in the food chain will be published next month.

“We are making good progress toward bringing forward a proposal. For the first time the college of commissioners will be able to put on the table considerations on how we can stamp out many unfair trading practices.

We can then deal with many issues that have been on the agenda for many years. We are responding to the strong mandate that we received from the council’s conclusions.

“We are responding to the position of the farmer in the food chain and to deal, on their behalf, with many of the unfair trading practices that are contributing to a decline in the margin of profitability in those transactions to our farmers,” he concluded.