Common Agricultural Policy
Bruno Le Maire, Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Rural Affairs and Town and Country Planning, notes the European Commission’s legislative proposal on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for 2014-2020. It is a basis for work on the negotiations being embarked upon with the member states and the European Parliament.
France will present the details of her position at the Agriculture [and Fisheries] Council on 20 October, in line with the “Paris call” of 11 December 2009 for a strong CAP, made by 22 member states on France’s initiative, and the Franco-German position on the future of the CAP [set out] on 14 December 2010. But Bruno Le Maire wants to insist on the following points at this stage:
As the OECD recognizes in its report published last week, the CAP – which is at the heart of the European growth strategy “Europe 2020” – has already undergone profound reforms. It thus reflects the new expectations of Europeans, who want safe, high-quality food and competitive, diverse, sustainable agriculture. The CAP must also guarantee farmers a decent income in a context of increased market volatility. That is why the CAP must be provided with a budget that matches its ambitions: in this respect, the renewal of the CAP budget proposed by the Commission for the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 is an absolute minimum beneath which no reform will be possible.
France is very mindful of safeguarding the CAP’s legitimacy. President Sarkozy was therefore the first to propose a debate on the redistribution of aid among the different states. But it must be sustainable and fair and take each European country’s agricultural situation into account.
In the same spirit of innovation, France supports the principle of the greening of CAP aid. But it must be simple and incentive-based, and must take the budgetary context into account. It must reflect the economic reality of farms and be accompanied by simplification, necessary for a greener, more efficient CAP. As they stand, the Commission’s proposals do not address these goals.
Convergence in the levels of direct aid within each member state is also a long-term goal enabling the CAP to increase its legitimacy and be greener. But it is essential that each member state be given substantial flexibility, in terms of both practicalities and timeframe, to carry this process through, in order not to jeopardize it.
The Commission’s proposal puts a stop to a long period in which regulation tools have been progressively dismantled. In order to anticipate and manage market crises more effectively, the Commission has made proposals – in particular, a general emergency clause and new risk management tools for farmers – which deserve to be examined. But this reform must also enable producers’ negotiating powers to be strengthened. It must also safeguard tried and tested production control mechanisms in certain sectors. Finally, France will seek to safeguard targeted aid for certain fragile sectors or regions./.