The Parliament supports the principle of decoupling direct farm subsidies from production, but it wants the link to be broken partially rather than totally as the Commission proposed in July.
The resolution welcomes the promotion of rural development, by shifting resources from market support to rural development schemes ahead of enlargement. It insists however that the differences between regions must be taken into account, and small farms and traditional, quality production must be supported.
The Parliament supported the Commission's proposal for compulsory modulation by 466 votes to 30. Compulsory modulation would oblige Member States to reduce direct aid under certain conditions in order to shift cash from production to measures such as environmental provisions and early retirement schemes. The Parliament accepts capping of aid, but with reservations, and would like to see it introduced gradually.
But the Parliament argues that the Commission's proposals cannot be implemented under current budgetary arrangements, given that the number of prospective new Member States has risen since the 1999 Berlin budget agreement (2000-2006).
The MEPs voted by 454 votes to 42 against systematic payment of national farm aid, and called for more support for the candidate countries before and after they join the EU.
Parliament insists that market regulation must continue. Farm-gate prices must not fall and there must be no cuts to intervention prices at present. Farmers' markets must be protected from outside competition if intervention schemes are converted into mere safety nets. The same health and safety standards must be applied to imports as to EU products. The Parliament insists that the Commission's WTO negotiating mandate must be reformulated to increase the emphasis on non-trade related aspects of agriculture.