‘Nobody is going to be happy at the beginning’ – Hogan on CAP

The EU budget and the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget post-2020 were discussed at length today in Brussels as part of an exclusive seminar for agricultural journalists from right across Europe.

During the seminar, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan fielded questions from the floor in relation to concerns arising from proposals announced by the European Commission in recent weeks.

Last Friday (June 1), the commission published its legislative proposals for the CAP post-2020.

Meanwhile, the proposed multi-annual financial framework (MFF) budget – running from 2021-2027 – was unveiled by Gunther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, at the beginning of May.

Commenting on the recent announcements, Commissioner Hogan said: “This is a negotiation. Nobody is going to be happy at the beginning of a negotiation – irrespective of what is in the legislative proposal.

It will be a matter for the member states and the European Parliament to calm down everybody by either [putting] more money into the EU budget or by agreeing the proposals that [Commissioner] Oettinger has put on the table.

“This is a matter for the MFF negotiations, which is outside of my control. But we have produced a very fair and reasonable proposition, considering the backdrop that I painted in my opening remarks about Brexit and about new policy priorities – which will cost money as well,” he said.

The commissioner highlighted that member states have big decisions to make in the coming months in relation to their political priorities, adding that “the ball is now firmly in the court of the member states”.

CAP delivery model

Furthermore, Commissioner Hogan stated that the legislative proposals revealed last Friday delivers on the commitments set out in the communication on ‘The Future of Food and Farming’, which highlighted the need to “provide a new legislative framework for a smarter, simpler, modern and more sustainable CAP”.

Continuing, he said: “So the new delivery model is not a carte blanche for member states to do as they please. They will prepare and submit – for commission approval – the strategic plans to cover the interventions of both pillars.

Some member states were concerned that this was going to delay the payment of monies in Pillar I to farmers; it won’t, because we’re allowing for partial approval of the plans as well.

“I think the experience of the Rural Development Programme would say that this is going to be a long process.

“It’s not in terms of Pillar I; because there is not the same type of exacting requirements that would be required of Pillar II – and member states have often been responsible for the delays themselves in implementing Pillar II for budgetary reasons. This won’t happen in terms of Pillar I.

“So the partial approval of the plans is important,” Commissioner Hogan explained.

Key safeguards

As part of his address to those present at the seminar, the commissioner outlined the key safeguards to ensure a “truly common and truly European policy” as well as “a level playing field”.

In summary, these include: the setting of EU-wide common objectives; the provision of common indicators to measure progress; alongside the central role for the commission to keep a watchful eye on member states, monitoring their progress and intervening whenever necessary.

“We will intervene in the commission if [member states] are not delivering on the strategic plans that they signed up to – and we will implement action plans. I think suspension of payments is likely to be a last resort,” he said.