Commission irks Council, Parliament by opposing two-year bridging CAP gap

Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski and Croatia’s Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković. Securing a deal on CAP transitional regulations is a priority for the Croatian EU presidency. [EUROPEAN UNION]

The European Parliament and the Council have been irritated by the Commission’s firm opposition to having an interim two-year period before the next EU farming subsidies programme starts.

In their ongoing talks on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)’s transitional regulations, the two EU co-legislators have agreed on a temporary scheme that will allow EU farming subsidies to flow for two years even if there is no agreement on post-2020 CAP reform.

However, the EU executive is strongly pushing for a one-year transition to bridge the gap between the current CAP programme and the next.

“The Commission is making our life difficult,” a diplomatic source involved in the talks told EURACTIV.

The Commission does not seem open to discussion on this point and its unwillingness to listen to different arguments is frustrating negotiators.

The source added that the Commission experts had refused to provide Parliament’s rapporteur and EU ministers with technical support to assess what the two-year period would entail in practice.

“We went ahead and did it without them,” the source explained.

Council ready to start negotiations on bridging CAP divide

Agriculture sherpas rubber-stamped a partial negotiating mandate to discuss with MEPs the transition period that will allow EU farming subsidies to flow even without an agreement on post-2020 reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

As the holder of the competence to initiate legislation, the Commission plays the role of a facilitator during the interinstitutional negotiations – known as ‘trilogue’ in the EU jargon – between the Council and the Parliament.

However, the final decision rests with the two co-legislators.

The rapporteur for the file, Finnish MEP Elsi Katainen, told her colleagues in the European Parliament’s agriculture committee (COMAGRI) that the Commission has not been able to take a position on the necessity of a two years transition, “despite the will of co-legislators.”

“I’d like to strongly call on the Commission to now take the role as an honest broker and to adapt their position by next trilogue,” she said in the COMAGRI meeting on Monday (22 June).

She stressed that the Commission needs to understand that the CAP reform will not be ready in time and, therefore, a one-year transitional period is not enough for member states administrations to properly prepare.

“This fight is urgent, the Commission should understand that a two year transition can’t be avoided,” said COMAGRI vice-president Mazaly Aguilar for the European conservatives (ECR).

Likewise, socialist MEP Paolo De Castro pushed Katainen to maintain Parliament’s approach on the two-year period, as it is impossible to have an interim scheme that lasts less.

According to Katainen, the current programme will end in six months only and co-legislators need to deliver on the interim measures to ensure legal certainty for the European farming sector.

She believes it is “realistic” to clinch a deal “in terms of content” with the Croatian presidency at the next trilogue on 30 June.

Securing an agreement on CAP transitional regulations is of the highest priority for the Croatians in order to get a meaningful achievement in the European farming agenda before their first EU rotating presidency comes to an end at the end of the month.

Croatian farm minister: Getting transitional CAP done by mid-2020 on presidency's radar

The Croatian EU presidency will focus its efforts on securing an agreement among member states on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)’s transitional regulations that will extend the current rules for at least a year, Croatia’s Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković told EURACTIV in an interview.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/ Natasha Foote]

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