European Parliament members to play part in CAP reform

Members of the European parliament will play a pivotal role in the reform of the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy when they debate and vote on the proposals tomorrow and Wednesday.

The vote, with its myriad of amendments, will fix the parliament’s mandate for the negotiations to follow with the Council, represented by the Irish presidency and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and his team.

However, the lobbying will continue up to the end, as the parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee has voted down many of the reforms devised by the European Commission, coming much closer to the position of some of the member states instead.

This will be the first time that the European Parliament will have equal say to the member states in agriculture, but some of the committee’s decisions are splitting the MEPs and many decisions are expected to be very tight.

Environmentalists such as the World Wildlife Fund are critical of the MEPs’ move against efforts to ensure that agriculture is more environmentally sensitive in the future. and point out that one move that would result in double funding for farmers is in fact illegal.

Rather than the new policy promoting greening or environmentally enhancing policies, they will intensify funding of the same polluting farming, said WWF director Tony Long.

“Many MEPs on the COMAGRI supported the reduction of greening measures, voted for the illegal double funding measures, and the reduction of cross compliance measure, want the continuation of a money for nothing ethos that rewards large farmers regardless of the impact they have on nature,” said Mr Long. “Currently 20% of all recipients received 80% of all funding. This unjust distribution is set to continue if the EU parliament votes through these measures.”

Independent MEP Marian Harkin has warned that, in the absence of any commitment to pillar 2 funding, which is for rural development, the focus had to be on how the Single Farm Payment would be distributed in the reform of CAP.

The terms “active” and “productive” farmer had yet to be defined, but a farmer with 20 cows could be just as active and productive as one with 200 and needed a fair allocation of the SFP, said Ms Harkin.

Mr Coveney has already said that there would not be a dramatic redistribution in a short space of time, as had been originally proposed by the European Commission, between big and small farmers.

Today, the chairs of the Agriculture and Fisheries Committees from the parliaments of the EU member countries are due to meet in Dublin Castle to engage with EU commissioners Dacian Ciolos and Maria Damanaki and with Mr Coveney on the future of the CAP and common fisheries policies.

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