Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Strasbourg, 23 November 2021

Opening statement to the plenary debate in the European Parliament on the CAP reform

“Check against delivery”

Dear President, dear honourable Members of Parliament,

I am very pleased to be here today to present the result of eight months of intense inter-institutional negotiations, and an even longer period of regular and constructive exchanges with the Parliament and the Council, since the Commission published its proposals for the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) back in June 2018.

It is a bit more than a year ago that I joined you for the debate on the Parliament’s negotiating mandate.

Let me start by thanking Chair Lins and the rapporteurs for the three regulations, MEP Jahr (SPR), MEP Müller (HZR) and MEP Andrieu (CMO), for their hard work, sparing no efforts in bringing about the political compromise reached at the end of June this year, and the final legal texts that you will be voting on today.

On behalf of the Commission, I fully support the political compromise reached. It is a good and balanced outcome that ensures the transition towards a more sustainable agriculture. The new CAP is an important step forward.

strong Common Agricultural Policy will contribute to all three dimensions of sustainability – economic, social and environmental. It will foster a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector that can support the livelihoods of farmers and provide healthy and sustainable food for society, while delivering significantly more in terms of environment and climate, in line with the European Green Deal ambition.

I am very satisfied of the large support that the political compromise on the CAP reform had in your Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, and I would like to invite you to confirm such support today.

It is time to harvest the result of so many months of negotiation and concentrate on the implementation of the new CAP, allowing us to address effectively the many challenges lying ahead for the European agricultural sector.

Let me now say a few words on each of the three regulations.

 

Strategic Plan Regulation

Green architecture

We can be satisfied with the so-called ‘Green Architecture’ of the Strategic Plan Regulation, the pillar of environmental sustainability.

The alignment with the Green Deal, the no-backsliding principle and the final compromise on conditionality and eco-schemes, including the ring-fencing of 25% of direct payments’ national envelopes for eco-schemes are strong outcomes. The final deal sends a clear political signal of the Union’s commitment to respond more decisively to the scale and the urgency of the environmental and climate challenges the Union is facing. The recent COP confirmed this need for a change.

The Basic Act will provide the right tools. Turning the legal framework into concrete results on the ground will require from Member States to rise up to the higher societal expectations in this domain. They will have to show the right level of ambition when designing eco-schemes and in the overall set-up of the environmental and climate interventions, addressing effectively the key challenges they will have identified in their Strategic Plans. I will come back on that.

Fair distribution

The new CAP improves the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of the distribution of direct payments, ensuring that income support goes to those who need it most and who deliver more for CAP objectives. Nobody should  be left behind.

A lot remains to be done in practice and the agreement reached on the CAP provides useful tools to deliver on this priority. A key element is the requirement for Member States to describe in their Strategic Plan intervention strategy how the need for redistribution will be addressed. Depending on the Member State’s specific context, the complementary redistributive income support (CRISS) will be key, but so will be other interventions or tools, like for example the payment of small farmers, if duly justified.

Social Conditionality

Regarding the social dimension of the future CAP, I am happy that the final political compromise includes for the first time the concept of social conditionality into the CAP, linking the distribution of direct payments to the respect of certain labour laws.

I would like to thank the European Parliament for having put forward this idea in its negotiating mandate, and to all parties for their determination and flexibility in finding a workable formula to make sure that the future CAP ensures the respect of workers’ rights without adding unnecessary administrative burden and safeguarding the integrity of national social and labour systems.

Delivery model

I am specially satisfied with the outcome achieved in the governance of the future CAP and the shift towards a more performance oriented policy and strategic planning.

The approval of the CAP Strategic Plans, with a common set of result indicators and targets against which the policy can be monitored and evaluated, constitutes an unprecedented opportunity to respond to the demands of our citizens to see results of our policy.

 

Horizontal Regulation

As for the Horizontal Regulation, I am glad that after intense discussions of the three institutions, the final political agreement strengthens the key elements of the original Commission proposal, notably with regard to the New Delivery Model.

Delivery model

Building on  the existing robust assurance model, in the new CAP, Member States will deliver on performance and will have to ensure strong governance systems in place.

They will be responsible for checking eligibility at final beneficiary level while the Commission will focus on ensuring that the Member States’ systems work properly.

I think we managed to strike the right balance between flexibility for the Member States and assurance on the CAP expenditure.

Transparency and Arachne

In terms of enhanced transparency in the CAP, I welcome the new element on groups of undertakings, which was introduced by the European Parliament.

I very much welcome as well the compromise on the data-mining tool ARACHNE.

ARACHNE is a very useful tool, which could supplement Member States’ checks.

The Commission is therefore happy to accept the obligation to make the tool available to all Member States free of charge and to make it 100% suitable for the CAP expenditure.

As to its voluntary or mandatory use, the Commission is ready to present a report by 2025 to the co-legislators, together with appropriate proposals, if necessary.

In addition, Honourable Members, I would like to recall that the Commission has tabled a unilateral statement on ARACHNE, as part of the statements accompanying the Horizontal Regulation. A copy will be transmitted again to your Plenary services.

Agricultural reserve

I am also very pleased with the agreement on the scope, financing and management of the new agricultural reserve.

flexible reserve of 450 million per year was agreed, and Council and Parliament could decide during the annual EU budget procedure to set up a higher level if needed, within the limits of the EAGF availabilities.

 

CMO amending regulation

On the Common Market Organisation amending Regulation, I am satisfied by the general political agreement reached.

With the new compromise, we will continue to have a policy that is market oriented and well aligned with the Green Deal/Farm to Fork objectives. EU farms will continue to operate according to market signals and will be well equipped to make the most out of the opportunities offered by EU and global markets.

There are a number of significant changes agreed in the process, also thanks to the amendments proposed by the European Parliament. Here I have in mind some of the very important provisions that even further strengthen the position of farmers in the food chain, by encouraging producer cooperation and providing competition-related flexibilities. You will recall that this is one of the actions foreseen under the Farm to Fork strategy and we deliver on it.

The wine sector will also benefit from a substantial number of new elements that will ensure long-term sustainable development of the sector.

We all recall that we have also extensively discussed the issue of standards applying to imports. Eventually, a political compromise was reached that sets out our commonly agreed level of ambition and the objectives that we want to pursue further: trade should not weaken the Green Deal’s ambitions.

The Commission is pleased with the approach agreed upon, respectful of our international commitments. We are now working on the report that we promised for the next year.

 

Implementation of the CAP reform

CAP Strategic Plans

Please allow me to finish with a few remarks on what lies ahead of us.

As you know, the Commission is sparing no efforts in its structured dialogue with Member States, supporting them in drawing up and finalising ambitious, fit-for-purpose CAP Strategic Plans, based on a solid needs assessment and including the appropriate combination of interventions addressing the identified needs and farmers’ and societal expectations.

The quality of Member States’ CAP Strategic Plans is the condition sine qua non for the new CAP to deliver and lead the way to a more sustainable EU agricultural sector. The Commission will assess the Plans in particular as regards their strategy, correspondence of specific objectives and targets. This assessment will be communicated to the Member States in an observation letter, so plans can be further improved.

I know of the European Parliament’s interest in the process of assessing and approving the national Strategic Plans.

The Commission will do its utmost to ensure a high level of transparency, so that the Parliament and the public in general stay well informed about the overall level of ambition of the CAP plans throughout the process. I have indicated the Commission’s intention to publish the observation letters addressed to Member States on their CAP plans.

As agreed during the negotiation process, the Commission will report to the co-legislators by end of 2023 on the content of the MS plans.

Synergy with other policies and funds

To conclude, let me mention that the CAP alone cannot address all the challenges we face in terms of economic, environmental and social sustainability.

At all levels of governance – EU, national and regional – we need to do our best to create synergies between policies and funds if we want to succeed. I am confident that the legislative package on which you are asked to vote today can significantly contribute to that goal.

 

Concluding remarks

I would like to thank you for the lively exchange and your interesting interventions.

The moment has come to seal this process and formally confirm the agreement reached on all the core political points that were intensively negotiated over the past months, even years.

I am sure all of you are aware of the responsibility we have towards our farmers and in deciding the future CAP.

By endorsing today the outcome of our negotiation, you will be opening the door to the CAP of the future, a new CAP that will play its role as key policy instrument to support the EU’s farm transition to sustainable food systems.

A new CAP that is fairer, greener and more effective.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Source – EU Commission

 


After the vote

I welcome today’s vote by the European Parliament. It brings us one step closer to a fair CAP for European farmers.

It is clear that the new CAP has to be fairer – this means not leaving anyone behind.

Today, the European Parliament voted for a fairer policy; not only for small and medium-sized family farmers, but also for young farmers and farm workers.

I will personally ensure that small and medium-sized family farms are not excluded from any intervention or assistance.

These farms make up the vast majority of farms in Europe, and they provide us with the vast majority of our food – they support us, so we must support them.

Today, Parliament also voted for a greener policy.  It includes strong measures that can work for farmers on the ground, and help to reach the targets of the Green Deal.

However, the Green Deal is a political strategy, and does not result in direct legal obligations for farmers.

There will be as much green implication in the Common Agricultural Policy as many Member States introduce it into strategic plans, and as many farmers introduce it into their farms.

I will ensure that Member States introduce appropriate incentives for farmers in their strategic plans.

I will ensure that these incentives make European farming more friendly for our environment, our climate, and for animal welfare. And I will ensure that it pays for farmers to take advantage of these incentives. The Common Agricultural Policy is, by definition, common; and the legislation passed today reflects our common goals. But to achieve our common goals, we require collective efforts and effective strategies.

Member States now have the opportunity to design their own strategies, based on their own needs and strengths. They have the opportunity to set targets, and take actions, to achieve real results. I urge Member States to seize the opportunity provided by today’s vote. It is an opportunity to secure a future for our farmers and rural communities.

It is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.

Source – EU Commission

Further links:

Message by Mr Janusz Wojciechowski, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, on the occasion of the Forum Top Agrar Polska

 

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