The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will continue to have first preference on funding available under the European Union’s Agriculture Budget.

This is according to the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, who spoke at the Council of Agricultural Minsters in Brussels earlier today.

Commissioner Hogan also outlined proposals to simplify the CAP through the Commission’s Omnibus plan, which will change the mechanisms of funding available under CAP.

“The scope of the change that is being proposed in the Omnibus will not change the fact that CAP will continue to have first call on assigned revenue,” he said.

He added that the measures proposed today are aimed at further simplifying the policy with a view to easing the burden and making life easier for both farmers and national authorities.

There is also a need to develop a specific tool to help with income volatility, he said, and this has been evident over the past 18 months of income volatility.

Commissioner Hogan also outlined potential changes to the current legal framework for the Voluntary Coupled Support measure.

“Under the current legal framework, the Commission does not have possibility to adopt emergency measures for more than 12 months.

“So, as to allow an effective and consistent response from the Commission to a market crisis, the power should be given to the Commission to provide Member States with the possibility to grant decoupled voluntary coupled support on the basis of a past reference period for a longer period.

In particular, this should allow farmers to continue receiving the same amount of coupled support without having to maintain the same amount of production.

“The possibility is also offered to Member States to revise the conditions on granting support under coupled support measures.

“It is designed to bring consistency and to enhance the effects of market measures that are taken to respond to any particular market crisis,” he said.

Commissioner Hogan continued to say that the introduction of such a measure would allow Member States to grant decoupled support to farmers in a certain sector based on a past reference.

This will allow for the provision of a stable income support, he said, even to farmers willing to reduce their production capacity.

Under the proposed legislation, individual Member States will also be able to decide whether they want to revise their coupled support measures in a sector that is subject to a market crisis.

This will be completed with a view to paying farmers on the basis if a past reference, he said.