EU ministers reach agreement on CAP reform package

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Potato crops in the field. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The new CAP reform package, agreed on Monday, seeks to strike a better balance between the economic, environmental and social aspects of agriculture, the Estonian Ministry of Rural Affairs said.

At a meeting of the European Union's Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg on Monday, ministers approved a compromise on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package, which had been on the trilateral negotiation table with the European Parliament and the Commission for a long time.

"The agreement reached in Luxembourg is one of the biggest CAP reforms of recent decades. The ambition of the new CAP poses a real challenge to the farmer, as environmental and climate objectives and society's wider expectations of the sustainability of food production are strongly embedded in the reform package," Minister of Rural Affairs Urmas Kruuse (Reform) said.

The minister added that, from Estonia's point of view, one could be satisfied with many of the results of the agreement reached as a compromise, but nevertheless said that there are also places in light of which the current national preparations and choices made for the implementation of the CAP need to be reviewed.

"Ministers decided to approve the compromise reached in the trialogue with the European Parliament and the Commission, as the agreement has been long overdue and is essential for agricultural producers to plan future activities," Kruuse said.

Among other things, the new CAP provides for a mandatory 10 percent of the annual budget for direct payments for redistributive support, with the aim of targeting direct payments more at small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises.

"While the goal of a fairer distribution of direct payments is perfectly understandable, the redistribution of 10 percent of the direct payments budget may not produce the expected results due to our large share of leased land," Kruuse said. He expressed hope that the specificities of the member states shall be taken into account in achieving this objective.

The new CAP strategic plan aims to support the transition to more sustainable agriculture and sets ambitious climate, environmental and animal welfare targets. Member states must allocate at least 25 percent of their direct support budget to so-called eco-schemes as well as at least 35 percent of rural development funds to agriculture's environmental and climate objectives.

Now that the general principles of the CAP reform package have been approved, discussions on the technical details of the reform will continue during the upcoming Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU. At the same time, member states must prepare and submit their CAP strategic plans to the European Commission. The Commission must then approve the plans, so that member states can implement them from 2023 onwards.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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