Ensuring European added value for both farmers and consumers in the future Common Agricultural Policy after 2020 was the discussion for a joint meeting between European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) Committee and the European Committee of the Regions’ Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) on 11 January. In the fraught negotiations over the future EU budget, the EPP Group in the CoR insists on a balance between market competitiveness and a minimal financial security for farmers.
“Post 2020 there needs to be an improvement in the investment environment so that farmers can be provided with tailor made financial instruments and keep up to date with technological change” Samuel Azzopardi, the EPP Group in the CoR’s NAT coordinator, proposed. He highlighted local experiences relating to the disappearance of farms, a lack of interest from young farmers in the agri-food sector and devastating loss of jobs in Europe’s rural areas. However, he also warned: “Any increase for the rural development funds cannot be allowed to happen at the expense of the farmers’ direct payments. Instead, Member States should have a greater degree of subsidiarity to transfer funds from the first pillar to the second pillar, if they wish so.”
Czeslaw Siekierski, Chair of the AGRI Committee (EPP/PL), said “I advocate the idea that regions and local governments should have more competences over the development of agriculture, especially in the local context or in reference to the creation of short food supply chains and working out different links between the consumer and the farmer.”
EPP Group representatives also expressed a need for a clear political message that the EU is working to improve working conditions, so that young people are incentivised to take up and stay in the profession, and warned against extra bureaucracy and red tape at all levels.
Olgierd Geblewicz, Marshal of West Pomerania, responded at the end of the meeting with a call for support for rural areas. “Depopulation and ageing societies in rural areas have become dangerous challenges for Europe, yet they are common phenomenon in many regions. The only tool preventing this occurrence is a stronger and more smartly managed second pillar of the CAP. This would create better living conditions and longer-term perspectives for our citizens.”