EU agriculture commissioner wants Covid funding for farmers made available quickly

The European Commission’s Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski has said that the €7.5 billion top-up coming to the EU’s farming subsidies programme from the bloc’s post Covid-19 stimulus plan should be made available as quickly as possible.

He was speaking at the European Parliament’s agriculture committee (COMAGRI), where he said the commission is looking for legal solutions to deploy the money immediately since farmers need these funds as soon as possible.

Subsidies

According to Euractiv, the deal on the seven-year budget the EU leaders agreed in July included an extra allocation meant exclusively for strengthening the rural development fund, which represents the Common Agricultural Policy’s (CAP’s) second pillar.

Commissioner Wojciechowski said:

This is a recovery fund and we have to recover now, not in two or three years.

He added that he is optimistic about the fact that a final agreement will be reached along those lines between the European Parliament and the ministers.

The suggestion to make the €7.5 billion available from the next budget year has been backed by several MEPs from different political groups, including the two biggest ones – the centre-right Europe’s People Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D).

Several Irish MEPs form part of the EPP grouping including Seán Kelly, Deirdre Clune, Maria Walsh, Frances Fitzgerald and Mairead McGuinness – prior to her announced appointment as a commissioner.

The commissioner said that the extra CAP money should not be allocated to the farming community only.

A lot of problems in the EU agriculture comes from the fact that the processing industry is separated from agriculture.

The commissioner also expressed a positive evaluation of the overall budget deal, as the CAP spending will now amount to €344 billion in constant prices – or €386.7 billion in current prices, the figure he used.

The commission believes that a one-year CAP divide would fit better in the context of both Farm to Fork implementation and Next Generation EU (NGEU).

It has even threatened to withdraw the proposal as a last resort weapon, which MEPs took as a threat to their law-making independence.

Euractiv reports that Commissioner Wojciechowski has said:

“The early use of the recovery fund may really cast some new light on this issue and maybe it will make the compromise easier.”