Post-2020 CAP may start two years late, socialist MEPs hint

"Assuming that three pieces of legislation of such magnitude can be solved in a couple of months is impossible," socialist MEP Paolo De Castro said in an interview [EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT]

It is virtually impossible to have the reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), a key EU policy programme, ready for the start of the 2021-2027 programming period, according to two experienced socialist MEPs.

Speaking at an event in the European Parliament last week, the Spanish socialist MEP Clara Aguilera voiced a certain pessimism about the good outcome of the CAP talks, saying it is not yet clear if the reform is going to happen or not.

“We hope this reform will be finalised at the end and that it will enter into force when it should, probably by 2022 or even 2023,” she added.

Another experienced socialist MEP, Paolo De Castro, the group coordinator in the agriculture parliamentary committee, said told Italy’s news agency Ansa in an interview that 1 January 2023 is a credible deadline for the entering into force of the new CAP.

“Farmers can rest easy as the current rules will be prorogated for at least a year or maybe two,” he said, adding that it is virtually impossible to rubber-stamp the reform before the end of the year and highly likely not even before December 2020.

De Castro pointed out that last time the talks led by the then Commissioner Dacian Ciolos took 18 months of trilogue for a total of 56 meetings with the Council, envisaging a similar timing also for these negotiations considering the sensitive topic.

“Assuming that three pieces of legislation of such magnitude can be solved in a couple of months is impossible,” De Castro stressed.

But the outgoing agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan still hopes to find an agreement on the CAP reform at the eleventh hour by the end of the year.

“Deadlines are one thing but something always crops up,” he said at last week’s informal meeting in Helsinki, adding that all the EU institutions have as a shared objective to get certainty and predictability for farmers.

“The direction is heading towards December, so hopefully everything will coincide beautifully by then and this is the kind of the timeline that is in the mind of the Council as well,” he said.

However, Finnish Agriculture Minister Jari Leppä reiterated that Finland began its presidency with the view to taking the CAP reform “as far as possible” since the essential measures on the CAP are related to the EU’s long-term budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which is still under discussion.

De Castro also anticipated that, during this week hearing, the socialist group will ask Commissioner-designate Wojciechowski to present as soon as possible a transitional legislative act in order to reassure European farmers.

In his written response to the European Parliament’s questionnaire before the hearings, Wojciechowski made no mention of transitional arrangements.

“We are in discussions internally in the Commission to know when we should publish transitional regulation, I expected it will be for one year,” Hogan said in Helsinki.

He also said he is now working with the Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger to decide when it is appropriate to present the regulation, although, on the sidelines of the press conference, he told reporters that such a proposal is not yet on the table of the College.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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