The EU’s budget proposal for 2020-2027 is mostly in line with France’s ambition for Europe: it maintains means and increases its priorities. However, the proposed slight cut in the CAP did not go down well. EURACTIV.fr reports.
The European Commission unveiled its 2020-2027 budget proposal on 2 May, and it was closely followed by France.
The EU is now embarking on a balancing act: financing more projects with reduced means because Brexit has left a €10 billion hole in a €160 billion annual budget.
The Commission has suggested payment commitments of €1135 billion for 7 years, similar to previous ones but on the rise given the departure of the UK.
On priorities, Emmanuel Macron and other heads of state are quick to list new ones for the EU: defence, border protection and migration being the most important. However, the EU remains a common support tool for European agriculture via the CAP.
France like most other agricultural countries (Ireland, Poland, Italy) oppose any further cutbacks in direct support to farmers.
The only concession France was willing to make was on cohesion policy, which distributes funds to reduce regional disparities. France was ready to make cuts on this policy in its own territory, provided that its general effectiveness was reviewed.
However, the Commission’s proposal would slightly cut back the CAP and the cohesion budget.
The FNSEA, the main agricultural trade union in France is surprised that the CAP is put aside to finance new policies in the EU (security, defence).
“Such a budget is unacceptable: it won’t allow agriculture to meet the new challenges it faces, particularly price volatility and climate change,” warned the union, which also called on the French President to take action.
The French Minster of Agriculture, Stéphane Travert, also called the budget proposal “unacceptable”.
“The CAP will be cut down to finance other policies. The Commission is using budgetary quibbles; by expressing the budgetary cuts in euros it is hiding the annual decline linked to inflation which will automatically lead to a further drop in direct payments. A 5.8% drop in 2022, 7.6% in 2023 … up to 15% in 2027,” stated French EPP MEP, Michel Dantin.
This proposal is only one of the many steps: the Parliament will now try to move forward the total amount of commitments, and each country will defend its own priorities. Some countries have already started by calling for a much smaller budget for the EU27 than for the EU28, such as the Danish Prime Minister.
— Lars Løkke Rasmussen (@larsloekke) May 2, 2018
The Netherlands also reacted angrily. “This proposal is not acceptable”, said the Dutch Prime Minister, who like his Danish counterpart believes his country contributes too much.
In France, MEP Isabelle Thomas, a budget expert, was “very disappointed”, because of the unprecedented cuts to the CAP and social cohesion. ”This Parliament will not abandon its commitments,” said the MEP.