MEPs vote to develop a new method to calculate direct payments

Earlier today MEPs voted on their priorities for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020, which included developing a new method to calculate direct payments.

MEPs argued that the EU farm policy for the period after 2020 must be “smarter, simpler, fairer and more sustainable; but also well financed and truly common”.

The non-binding resolution seeks to influence the upcoming legislative proposals on the CAP reform, which are expected to be announced this Friday (June 1).

They stated that EU member states should be able to adapt the CAP to their needs, but they reject any “re-nationalisation” of the policy – warning that it could distort competition in the single market.

Last year, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, presented the EU’s white paper on ‘The Future of Food and Farming’.

The commissioner outlined that the new-look policy will provide for “simpler rules and a more flexible approach“. The paper confirmed that a support system based on direct payments will continue; but, future supports will be based more on results than compliance.

‘Performance rather than compliance’

However, MEPS have also stated that farming activities in all member states should be subject to the same high EU standards and that breaches should trigger similar penalties.

As well as enabling farms across the EU to continue producing safe and quality food at affordable prices, the CAP for the period between 2021 and 2027 should “make them more environmentally sustainable and fully integrated into the circular economy”, MEPs added.

They maintained that it should also foster innovation, research and smart farming practices. Because of this, MEPs want to maintain the CAP budget at its current level as a minimum.

The EU Parliament wants:
  • Direct payments to continue to be fully financed from the EU budget;
  • To cut red tape for the mandatory greening measures and make them more results oriented. Voluntary measures should also be simplified and better targeted;
  • A new EU method to calculate direct payments to phase out historical support criteria and to support more of those who deliver additional public goods;
  • More efficient ways to ensure that EU support goes to genuine farmers;
  • Fairer distribution of EU funds among member states, considering amounts received and differences, for example, in production costs or purchasing power;
  • Less money for larger farms, with an EU-wide mandatory payment ceiling;
  • More money to help invigorate rural areas, rejecting thus the 25% cut in the 2021-2027 rural development budget as proposed by the European Commission on May 2;
  • Stronger support for young and new farmers and for those hit by income and price volatility;
  • No farm subsidies for the breeding of bulls for bullfighting;
  • To exclude the most sensitive sectors from trade negotiations;
  • Allow for support coupled to production – which member states can now grant to crucial ailing sectors – to also be used for strategically important production (for example, protein crops) or to compensate the effects of free-trade deals.

The post-2020 CAP reform – which is closely linked to debates on the future of the EU’s long-term budget – will be co-decided by the European Parliament and the European Council.