Council CAP position ‘a good foundation but not fully satisfactory’ – commissioner

The position of the European Council on the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), that was adopted this week, won’t be “fully satisfactory” to the European Commission, the Commissioner for Agriculture has said.

Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski was speaking at the conclusion this week of a meeting of the European Council of agriculture ministers.

Despite his misgivings, the commissioner said that the council’s position is a “very good foundation to reach an agreement”.

The commission and the council are waiting on the European Parliament to finalise its position on the CAP proposals that were published in July before the ‘trilogue’ (talks between all three bodies) can get underway with a view to a final agreement.

The parliament is set to finalise its position this week, with votes on amendments to the CAP proposals taking place throughout the week.

Commissioner Wojciechowski confirmed that the new ‘eco-schemes’ would be ringfenced within Pillar I, something he said was a “major change”.

Eco-schemes will be new features of the next CAP. They will be schemes that are mandatory for member states to set up, but will be optional for farmers.

However, is is understood that a portion of Pillar I payments would be ‘off-limits’ to farmers who do not take part in a scheme. There is some leeway for member states to come up with eco-schemes that suit their own national circumstances.

If the parliament takes up this position, then the amount of Pillar I funding to be ringfenced will be determined during the trilogue. The commissioner explained that it will either be 20% or 30%.

With some votes in the parliament already taken, the commissioner argued: “In both positions of the European Parliament and the council we see a well-balanced agreement. We have a balanced approach where we care about the climate, about the environment, but also we care about the farmers, their livelihoods and also food security.”

He added: “Not everything is fully satisfactory to the commission. We will enter [into this] in the trilogue phase. However, I think this is a very good foundation to reach an agreement between co-legislators.”

Commissioner Wojciechowski highlighted farmers on small holdings, arguing: “We want to include them in the general system of the CAP so they do not remain outside this policy, or on the margins, and they can really contribute and participate.

“I think this would be a positive change for small holdings and small farms. Small farms needs to be supported. Too many are disappearing. They are being taken over by intensive agriculture and thanks to these new solutions we will be able to sustain small farms,” the commissioner concluded.