CAP and rural development

Enlargement strengthens the case for more
support for rural development in the EU

Background

 

The main aims of the new EU rural
development policy are:

  • to improve agricultural holdings,
  • to guarantee the safety and quality of
    foodstuffs,
  • to ensure fair and stable incomes for farmers,
  • to ensure that environmental issues are taken into
    account,
  • to develop complementary and alternative activities
    that generate employment, with a view to slowing the
    depopulation of the countryside and strengthening the
    economic and social fabric of rural areas,
  • to improve living and working conditions and
    promote equal opportunities.

Between 4,300 and 4,370 million euro
is allocated each year to rural development during the
period 2000-06. These measures are financed by the EAGGF
Guarantee Section or Guidance Section.

The following rural development
measures are supported by the EAGGF:

  • early retirement,
  • less-favoured areas,
  • agri-environment measures,
  • afforestation of farmland,
  • renovation and development of villages,
  • protection and conservation of rural heritage,
  • diversification of farm activities,
  • improvement of infrastructure.

Issues

A new policy for rural development was introduced as the
second pillar of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in
the framework of Agenda 2000 in March 1999. Agenda 2000
reformed the CAP in view of the expected enlargement to
largely rural countries, such as Poland, Bulgaria or
Romania.

The EU proposes reinforced rural
development measures, as support for semi-subsistence
farms, for the candidate countries, so that they can reap
the benefit of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) even
before they meet the EU production standards. Whilst
Central and East European countries are only offered 25-35
per cent direct payments from the CAP budget from 2004 to
2006, reaching 100 per cent in 2013, the new members will
receive higher rural development subsidies which will help
them stabilise farm incomes.

Positions

 

The
Commission

argues that a better balance of support between market
policy and rural development will increase both the
social acceptability of the CAP and the possibility to
address consumer, environmental and animal welfare
concerns within the second pillar (rural
development).

The
European Parliament

adopted two resolutions on in May 2002, calling for the
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to be preserved, and for
a major shift towards support for sustainable rural
development. The two resolutions call for a new, third
pillar for the CAP to ensure food quality and safety.
They also demand full powers for the European Parliament
over the CAP and the agriculture budget. Both resolutions
call for more resources to be shifted from market
support, which currently accounts for about 90 per cent
of the CAP budget, to rural development. The Fiori
Resolution also calls for an incomes policy to keep
farmers on the land throughout the EU. It calls on the
Commission to draft proposals for the post-2006 period
aimed at making direct income support part of rural
development policy.

The
AgriCultural Convention

has called on the European Convention to lay the
foundations of a Common Agricultural and Rural Policy in
the treaties. The AgriCultural Convention has "serious
concerns about the negative side effects of the current
CAP, and particularly its centrally controlled
productivist focus". A new Common Agricultural and Rural
Policy (CARP) should be based on the principles of
sustainable development, democratic accountability, and
should be clearly identified as a community policy. CARP
should also enable developing countries fair access to
Western markets and development of food security within
their own. The AgriCultural Convention proposes that the
current WTO round should advocate an integrated approach
to rural development and sustainable farming practices
across the world.

The biggest EU farmers associations
COPA and COGECA

say that the Commissions proposals for the CAP mid-term
review "completely undermine the commitments made by the
European Council when it decided Agenda 2000 at the
Berlin Summit". COPA and COGECA consider that the current
CAP reform model "is leading to a split between market
concerns ("first pillar") on the one hand and ecological
and rural development ("second pillar") on the other,
with the risk of farms being segregated in a similar
way".

Timeline

 

A thorough reform of the CAP is
not expected before 2006 when the EU should adopt its
next multi-annual budgetary plan (2007-2013). The next
reform will thus also involve the new Member States from
Central and Eastern Europe.

Further Reading

Non-assigned links

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