CAP: A Conservative critique of the supposed "reforms"

27-Jun-2013 @ 10:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

After two years of discussions and a huge amount of work from ministers, parliamentarians and officials, the deal struck in trilogue yesterday (Wednesday) on reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy amounts to a huge missed opportunity.
That is the view of Julie Girling MEP, Conservative agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, who took part in the lengthy negotiation process and the detailed and gruelling final talks this week in Luxembourg and Brussels.
And she pointed out that even now, the "deal" reached is not a final agreement as there are many outstanding issues on hold relating to the EU's long-term budget (the so-called Multi-annual Financial Framework) which has still to be settled.
She said: "Our negotiations have managed to remove many of the very worst elements of the proposals as originally tabled and voted by Parliament. But that cannot disguise the fact that what is left is still not good - a backwards step in many ways to interventionism and statism. It does nothing for food security, consumers or the environment, and even less for farmers.
"British farmers have little to celebrate here and to an extent their efficiency will be punished instead of rewarded."
Following the negotiations concerns remain:
Despite all the work to achieve a 'final' agreement today many issues remain open pending a deal on the Multiannual Financial Framework. This includes key elements of the Direct Payments regulation, such as capping, external convergence, the movement of money between pillars, and elements of the Horizontal Regulation primarily concerning the 'crisis reserve'.
In addition, although the greening proposal has been significantly watered down we maintain our position that greening measures should be implemented via Pillar 2 funds. The current agreement is overly complex, administratively cumbersome and it will lead to upheaval such as remapping for very little environmental gain.
We are also unhappy with the introduction of an additional 'greening penalty' in the Horizontal Regulation for those who do not carrying out their 'greening' requirements under pillar 1. Although we did manage to delay this penalty for the first two years, we were not able to prevent an eventual 25% penalty.
The continuation of coupled payments is regrettable as these lead to over production which is not related to market demand. We regret the rejection of the requirement for full transparency, which was supported by the European Parliament at plenary.
We will be voting against the agreement on the Single Common Market Organisation for a number of reasons:
- the extension of wine quotas to 2030.
- the increase of intervention and reference prices.
- the extension of the sugar quota to 2017.
- the extension of the power of Producer Organisations.
However we do support the rejection of general marketing standards, so the return of 'bendy banana' can be laid to rest.
We welcome the reduced mandatory negative list for the definition of the 'active farmer' and the flexibility of Member States to add to this list to fit particular national circumstances.
We also welcome the agreement that no double-funding can take place despite the introduction of mandatory greening provisions.
As representatives of a country outside the Eurozone we Conservatives fought hard to keep text introduced by the European Parliament which allows Member States to use an average exchange rate for conversion rather than the exchange rate on the last day of the month. This will avoid issues with speculation and was a huge achievement for Conservatives and the UK.
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