The EU’s newest members are calling for a further levelling of payments in the latest planned reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Yesterday, EU Agriculture Ministers had one of their first exchanges of views on the future of the CAP.
In particular ministers shared ideas on how the priorities of the future CAP can be achieved, and on whether or not there should be a rebalancing of direct support and rural development.
Most delegations asked for adequate funding for the future CAP, which will have to face a variety of challenges including market volatility, climate change and pressure on resources.
Concerning direct payments some delegations particularly in Eastern Europe asked for progressive harmonisation in all EU member states, in order to achieve real level playing field in the EU.
Several also called on the Commission to maintain if not strengthen voluntary coupled support.
After the meeting, Agriculture Commissioner Phil hogan also highlighted that the backdrop to all of the discussions today was budget.
"If you have €9 billion less in the overall EU budget from the net contribution of the UK and of course there also a number of other policy ambitions for the EU.
"More money will be required for those so we are classic situation of where we have a lot more proposals than we have money," he warned.
Simplification was generally highlighted as an overall priority for future policies in order to release the full economic potential of EU farming and rural areas.
Other issues indicated as priorities were: building resilience, responding to environmental challenges, investing in rural viability and vitality, ensuring generational renewal, maintaining a market orientation and strengthening farmers' position in the food chain.
The issue of risk management was touched upon by several delegations that expressed the need for a more robust response to market crises, including in the form of countercyclical measures. Innovation was also indicated as both a priority and a tool to face future challenges.
As for the pillar structure of the CAP, most delegations confirmed its validity.
Some delegations were in favour of putting more emphasis on rural development in the future in order to invest in rural viability and vitality, whilst others warned against a reduction of direct support to farmers.
Though several delegations found it was too early to consider a rebalancing of the financial resources allocated to pillar I and pillar II, many asked for real flexibility between pillars at member state level.
Source: FARM IRELAND