Following the presentation of the proposals by the European Commission in October 2011 for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, and particularly for the four basic regulations governing the essential issues of CAP – Direct Payments to farmers, Single Common Market Organisation, Rural Development and Horizontal Regulation, discussions have begun at various levels of the EU Institutions. These discussions will continue during the Cyprus Presidency, aiming for the greatest possible progress or even completion, provided that the agreement on the multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020 can be achieved on time at the European Council.
The three main objectives of the new reform are viable food production, sustainable management of natural resources and climate action and balanced territorial development. The two-pillar framework of the Common Agricultural Policy will remain the same.
The Cyprus Presidency supports the basic principles on which the Commission proposals are based, i. e. convergence and a contribution towards the Europe 2020 Strategy, the promotion of innovation and green growth, the fair allocation of funds on the basis of objective criteria, the acknowledgment of farmers’ role in the production of public goods and their efforts against climate change, the improvement of competitiveness of all types of European agriculture and the support of small farmers. The promotion of simplification is considered as a central and horizontal issue. This effort must be continuous, taking into account the principle of proportionality.
In close cooperation with the other institutions of the EU, we aim to play a constructive role on the substance of the issues, trying to achieve the maximum shared understanding between the Member States, and between the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission.
Τhe existing framework of direct payments will be replaced by a single system common to all Member States. Payments will be based on entitlements which will be allocated to producers taking into account a 2014 baseline that will be determined later on.
The new direct payments system provides the following measures:
- Payments to farmers implementing agricultural practices beneficial for the climate and the environment. The support corresponds to 30% of the budget.
- Additional support to young farmers.
- Increased support for areas with natural constraints at the discretion of the member state.
- Distribution of up to 10% of the budget for coupled support to sectors which face certain difficulties or are of particular importance for social, economic or environmental reasons.
- Promotion of a new single payment plan with simplified procedures for very small farmers.
With the exception of the small farmers’ scheme, the support for direct payments is related to the fulfilment of various obligations under cross compliance.
The new Single Common Market Organisation promotes measures that envisage an increase in the bargaining power of producers in the food chain. In addition, it encourages better sectoral organisation with recognition and support through rural development projects of the Producer Organisations and the Interprofessional Organisations in all sectors of production. Finally, the Common Market Organisation confirms that from 2015 the milk and sugar quotas will be abolished.
The Rural Development Policy is being aligned with the Europe 2020 Strategy, with particular emphasis on climate change, environment and innovation. The Rural Development Policy envisages the creation of Rural Development Programmes at national or regional level with a duration of seven years. In this context, measures under the Rural Development Programme will no longer be classified into priority axes. Instead, the measures will be selected from a specific list, in order to better serve the specified European priority targets. Each Member State will choose those measures that will better serve the objectives of the Union, in the light of its own characteristics and current conditions. The list includes measures such as:
- Knowledge and information transfer and advisory services,
- Development of agricultural holdings and enterprises with an extension of support to small and young farmers and small enterprises,
- Support for the creation of producer groups in all Member States of the EU,
- Promotion of agri-environmental and climate measures and measures for promoting organic farming,
- Cooperation in achieving common goals in promoting innovation with pilot projects, investment covering the whole chain of production, processing, food-marketing, development of local markets etc.,
- Risk management in the agricultural sector with the ability to create mutual funds and stability of income,
- Reinforcement and promotion of Local Action Groups to implement local development strategies,
- Meeting the running costs of specialist collaborative teams of researchers, agricultural consultants and farmers to promote innovative practices concerning the productivity and sustainability of agriculture.
The Cyprus Presidency recognizes that the new regulatory framework for the period after 2013 has to be finalized early enough in order to give sufficient time to the Commission and the member states to finalize the programming before the beginning of the new programming period 2014-2020.