Friday, November 27, 2020
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Agricultural budget EU: wait and see what the prime ministers with budget want

The European Parliament's Agriculture Commission has welcomed the slight increase the European Commission has added to the Agriculture budget, but insists that new tasks need new money.

At the end of May, after a long insistence from the Agriculture Commission, the European Commission had slightly increased the multi-annual budget, but this has since been rejected by the Heads of State or Government. Those heads of government will meet again in mid-July, with the Netherlands and three other EU countries still quite annoyed.

Although their objections mainly focus on the corona recovery fund, the multi-year EU budget has therefore not yet been secured. A major stumbling block is the large amount of money that is needed for the Green Deal of vice-chairman Frans Timmermans, including from farm to fork, for biodiversity, less pesticides and more organic agriculture. And those hundreds of millions in an ever-increasing rural development reserve is very tempting….

Measures of the European Green Deal should not be paid from the current money for agricultural policy, the committee meeting said again Monday. The Agriculture Commission did recognize that a 'modernized and sustainable Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will make a decisive contribution to the EU's ambitious climate goals. A significant part of the CAP should support the EU's climate objectives, but their achievement will depend largely on adequate funding, the Committee on Agriculture emphasized.

That extra money is highly unlikely for several reasons. First, the European Commission has already improved the latest draft budgets. Moreover, ultimately it is the heads of state who (usually) have the final say. And in most budgets, 'old for new' is a very common starting point: new policy can only continue if money is 'found' by letting 'old' policy lapse. Moreover, several countries have been known for some time that they think that in the EU far too much is spent on (maintaining outdated) agricultural policy.

Moreover, it is far from certain whether the opinion of the Agriculture Commission is shared by their fellow MPs from the Budget Committee, the Economic Commission and the Environment Committee. This will only become apparent in September, when the final budgets are voted on. Then almost iedereen has probably long forgotten that it was the prime ministers and ministers who put the financial brake on in July.

In a non-binding resolution, passed with 37 votes in favor, 8 against and 3 abstentions, the Agriculture Commission insists that 'the green transition, the comprehensive bio-diversity plans and the F2F vision must be financed with fresh money and not at any cost may go from existing CAP funding. Increased ecological requirements must always be paid financially, because farmers cannot be asked to do more with less money, it is said. They add that in the EU, agriculture is the only one that has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.

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