Regions have to be back at the heart of the Common Agricultural Policy to meet the challenges ahead for Europe

Local authority leaders have adopted an opinion on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), calling for it to be fair, sustainable, solidarity-based and for the benefit of farmers, regions, consumers and the public. In its current form, the legislative proposal on the future CAP jeopardises European regions' autonomy in managing the CAP. Moreover, the proposed 28% cut in funding for rural development runs counter to the EU's objective of territorial cohesion. The new CAP must address Europe's environmental and climate challenges and enable farmers to have a fair income. The budget cuts and instruments proposed by the European Commission will make this difficult.

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The president of the European Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, said that "By putting the regions back at the centre of the Common Agricultural Policy and by putting forward ambitious reform proposals, the European Committee of the Regions has shown that this policy is instrumental to achieving the EU's objectives in terms of jobs, competitiveness, territorial cohesion, protecting the environment and combating climate change. Its budget must be maintained, particularly for the rural development strand. This is the only way we can meet the need to protect all Europeans, particularly in rural areas."

"The European Committee of the Regions is calling for the role played by Europe's regions in managing and implementing the CAP to be maintained and bolstered, particularly with regard to the second pillar, so as to adapt this policy to the specific features of the regions and sectors", said the rapporteur for the opinion on the CAP reform, Guillaume Cros (FR/PES), vice-president of the Occitania region. "Renationalising the CAP would be a blow to European ambition and undermine the benefits that flow from the regionalisation of this policy. This would risk losing all of the wealth of experience acquired by many European regions over the years", he added.

The main innovation of the European Commission's proposal for a legislative package on the CAP is that it entrusts the implementation of the CAP to the Member States. Strategic plans covering both the first and second pillars of the CAP will have to be devised on the basis of common European objectives and managed by the Member States once the Commission has given its approval. The regulation proposed by the Commission removes the possibility for the Member States to delegate the drawing up of regional rural development plans to the regions, which limits the possibility of developing tailor-made programmes adapted to the realities on the ground, contrary to the objectives set by the European Commission.

The CoR opinion also emphasises the importance of a fairer distribution of CAP premia between Member States, between regions and between farms in order to maintain the family farm model and keep agricultural activity going in all regions and thus preserve the vitality of rural areas.

The CoR is also advocating a more sustainable CAP: it is proposing that eco-schemes be stepped up, the use of pesticides reduced, and the amount of land farmed organically increased. It is also in favour of restoring a minimum requirement for ecological focus areas per farm, and the phasing out of cage-rearing. The greening of the CAP is taking on a new dimension and has gained in importance following the report published by the United Nations a few days before the start of the 24th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change. This report points out that to keep the rise in average temperature below 2°C, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 2030. "Agriculture can play its part here by reducing the use of nitrogen fertilisers and the industrialisation of farming," said Guillaume Cros.

During debates at the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels, representatives of local and regional authorities also advocated market regulation at times of crisis rather than the development of insurance schemes and, as MEPs have also done, called for an appropriate budget for an ambitious, fairer and more sustainable CAP, and for measures in support of rural development.

Representatives of the Committee of the Regions will attend the high-level conference on the challenges facing the CAP, being hosted by the European Commission over two days, on 6 and 7 December 2018.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 12 December 2018 18:24