€750 billion MFF boost: What will it mean for Irish farmers?

The European Commission’s proposal for a comprehensive Recovery Programme, which will increase the commission’s original 2018 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) proposal from €1.1 trillion to €1.85 trillion, has been welcomed by European Commissioner Phil Hogan.

Announced by the commission yesterday, Wednesday, May 28, the proposal includes a new €750 billion Recovery Instrument – Next Generation EU.

This will be made up of €500 billion in grants and €250 billion in loans and will be funded through the commission borrowing on the capital markets.

This proposal will require the unanimous agreement of the European Council and the consent of the European Parliament.

The borrowing will be invested back into a number of MFF programmes, including the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the commissioner claimed.

Yesterday’s proposal also includes an additional €15 billion for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to support rural areas in making the structural changes necessary in line with the European Green Deal and achieving the ambitious targets in line with the new biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies.

This will mean an additional €354 million in Ireland’s rural development envelope for the next programming period (2021-2027), compared with the commission’s 2018 proposal, the commissioner said.

The additional funding for Ireland will also include €132 million from the Just Transition Fund to support re-skilling and to help businesses create new economic opportunities.

This will help alleviate the socio-economic impacts of the transition in the regions most affected, Commissioner Hogan said.

However, although the new proposals provide for a slightly increased CAP budget compared to what was proposed last February, overall a significant cut (when inflation is taken into account) is still proposed (compared to current 2014-2020 CAP funding).

Instead of being cut by 14%, as was the case with February’s plans, CAP funding will now face a cut (allowing for inflation) of around 9% on its current level.

In order to provide additional funding this year, the commission is proposing to bridge the period from now and the end of the year, before which the new own resources won’t apply, by increasing the existing MFF (2014-2020) by €11.5 billion.