McGuinness: Transitional CAP will ensure farm payments continue

The European Parliament Agriculture Committee’s move to extend the existing rules for at least one year until the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is agreed is the first step in ensuring continuity of farm payments, Mairead McGuinness has confirmed.

Commenting, the MEP and First Vice President of the European Parliament said:

“The CAP faces two immediate challenges – firstly, European heads of state have yet to agree on the size of the overall EU budget (MFF) post 2020, and secondly, there is no clarity on the share of the budget that will be allocated to the CAP.”

Covid-19 and CAP

Continuing, McGuinness said: “The MFF debate is now more complicated as the budget is likely to underpin the EU Covid-19 recovery plan.

“It is clear that a much larger MFF will be needed and I remain concerned about the share of the budget that will be allocated to the CAP,” she said.

We will need to be vigilant that the recovery plan involves extra money and does not indirectly draw from the funding of existing policies, specifically cohesion and agriculture.

The MEP added that the process of agreeing on the new CAP which started in the last parliament is now in the hands of the new parliament elected last year.

“It will be a different CAP than today with a far greater focus on environment, biodiversity and climate action”, the Midlands-North West MEP continued.

“The vote on transitional arrangements will help provide some clarity for the short-term, until the new CAP is agreed.

“While we hope these interim arrangements will only be required for one year, given the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, they could be in place for a two year period – 2021/2022.

I would hope that the new CAP can come into effect in 2022 and that the reorientation of the CAP can begin at the earliest date.

Coronavirus impact

“Covid-19 has dramatically impacted on the food supply chair and is likely to continue to do so”, McGuinness added.

This new norm of restricted living will continue to impact on farmers and will need a more in-depth response than the EU Agriculture Commissioner Wojciechowski has announced, according to the Fine Gael MEP.

The commissioner will be speaking before the committee tomorrow, Thursday, April 30, discussing the latest aid package designed to help farmers deal with the ongoing pandemic.

Yesterday, Tuesday, April 28, the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee unanimously voted in favour of extending the rules of the current CAP to ensure that farmers will still be able to access their entitlements while the reform of the new CAP remains under discussion.

The vote to proceed directly to negotiations with the Council was with 40 MEPs in favour, and eight against, the vice president concluded.