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Von der Leyen tries to reassure farmers in EU about subsidies

There can be no doubt that farmers will continue to be a valued part of our culture and future. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday in response to new demonstrations in numerous EU countries by farmers who drew attention to their difficult working conditions.

Many farmers feel undervalued and fear being affected by measures against climate change. Von der Leyen acknowledged that her ambitious climate policy entails changes for iedereen. The new EU Agriculture Commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, will ensure that "our farmers can also flourish while adapting to the new reality", the German politician promised in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

We need a strategy to get food sustainably from the farm on our plates, says Von der Leyen. According to her, this includes, for example, that young farmers have access to financing. In addition, it is important that imported food meets European environmental standards, she tried to reassure the agricultural sector.

The successive parliamentary elections in the EU countries, the confusion surrounding the Brexit, the ongoing migration crisis and the fear of a possible new financial crisis have put the negotiations in the EU on the reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) at an impasse. Now, mid-2021, Brussels is on the clock as the starting date. The core of the matter remains the multi-year budget and the question of how much money can still go to agriculture.

The original proposal of the now retiring Commission is under heavy fire. The scope is roughly: even less money for agriculture (pillar 1) and a further shift to environmental and climate measures (pillar 2) plus possibly a 10 percent reduction in the total agricultural budget. That means a further substantial reduction in income support. Wojciechowski wisely kept silent about this during his hearing in the European Parliament, otherwise he could have packed right away.

However, the new EU agricultural commissioner had previously said that he was in favor of equalizing all the hectares aid in the EU. That would mean that income support in the Eastern European and southern member states would rise sharply and fall sharply in the other member states, including the Netherlands.

The recent leaked announcement by Frans Timmermans (the second in rank in the Commission) that a proposal is on the table in Brussels to transfer 40% of the total agricultural budget for income support to the subsidy for the environment and for climate actions in the coming 7 years , does not make it any easier for Wojciechowski.

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