EU Parliament wants plenary vote on new CAP after summer break

This practically means that a vote is expected at the plenary session on 14-17 September. [Shutterstock/Alexandros Michailidis]

The coordinators of political groups on the European Parliament’s agriculture committee agreed on Monday (30 March) to hold a plenary vote on the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)  “after the summer break”, according to a document seen by EURACTIV.

“The Rapporteurs briefed the Coordinators on the progress made at the technical level, mainly through remote meetings and written procedure. They all foresee that the vote in plenary could take place after the summer break. The Coordinators agreed with this approach,” the document reads.

This means that a vote is expected at the plenary session on 14-17 September.

After the go-ahead from the plenary, MEPs could start negotiations with the Council in order to clinch a final deal.

However, negotiations promise to be long and tough. Talks between MEPs and EU ministers took 18 months and 56 meetings during the negotiations on the current CAP.

As the post-2020 CAP negotiations will not be concluded before the start of the 2021-2027 programming period, MEPs need to agree on some interim measures based on the current CAP rules to make sure EU farming subsidies continue to flow.

The committee vote on these transitional regulations remains scheduled for 27-28 April, according to the document.

“The Rapporteur is doing everything to ensure that the file will be adopted according to the planned schedule and aims at voting on the report during the meeting of 27/28 April”, the document states.

The rapporteur for the dossier, Finnish MEP Elsi Katainen (Renew Europe), already published a draft report in January and a full set of compromise amendments are currently being negotiated with all political groups.

“The Coordinators support the Rapporteur and would like to hold a committee meeting before the vote,” the document notes.

In a recent interview with EURACTIV, Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said he did not think that the COVID-19 crisis would substantially affect the adoption of the CAP transitional regulation.

“Both the European Parliament and the EU Council have the capacity to adjust procedures and organise both negotiations and the adoption of proposals, even if physical meetings and personal movements are restricted,” he said.

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Marija Vučković, the agriculture minister of Croatia, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council until July, told EURACTIV in late January that “clinching a deal on this is very necessary to ensure the continuation of direct payments, as well as the funding of new projects in the rural development programme in 2021”.

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Leave CAP intact

In light of the escalating coronavirus crisis and the disruption it has caused in the food supply chains, EU lawmakers also called on the EU executive to take further measures.

They particularly asked for immediate liquidity to support farmers as well as market measures for specific sectors.

They also want the Commission to “ensure that the CAP envelop remains untouched in the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).”

According to the latest proposals for the 2021-2027 EU budget, the CAP could see its funds cut by a further €5 billion. However, analysts point out that Europe will face a new reality after the coronavirus crisis and re-prioritising specific sectors of the EU economy should not be ruled out.

CAP spending faces further €5bn cut in bloc's budget blueprint

In the latest compromise proposal for the next EU 7-year spending plan, fresh money allocated on the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) were trimmed by €7.5 billion, only partly offset by a €2.5 billion increase in direct payments to farmers.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said earlier this week that the executive would come up with an “overall recovery plan”, which will re-visit the priorities of the MFF budget.

Many interpreted it as an attempt to grant EU member states more flexibility to use the MFF funds.

**Gerardo Fortuna contributed to this article.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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