CoR and EESC adopt their opinions on the CAP reform proposals

In their respective plenary sessions on 25 April and 4 May, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) adopted their formal opinions on the proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy reforms. The opinions of these two EU institutions are a mandatory part of the CAP reform legislative procedure and the European Parliament and Council are obliged to take them into account when they agree the legislation and implementation of the reformed CAP.

In their opinion, the CoR recognises the growing challenges for EU agriculture, referring particularly to issues of ‘food security, environmental protection, climate change, preservation of the rural environment and farmers standards of living’. In general terms, the CoR argues that an ambitious CAP budget must be maintained; that coupled support for certain production areas should be retained; and recognises the need for capping and gradual convergence. They also recommend allocating 10 per cent of Pillar 1 funds to Areas of Natural Constraint and, from Pillar 2, 10 per cent for research and innovation.

The CoR also urges that the CAP is rolled out as closely as possible to the regional level to take account of the diversity of EU regions. Therefore they support a bigger role of local and regional authorities in implementing the CAP and in establishing the partnership contracts. The opinion also defends the need to introduce the greening payment at a regional level so that it can be appropriately targeted to the conditions on the ground, and for integrating the CAP into an overarching European rural development strategy. One of the amendments worth noting is Amendment 8 on territorial pacts whereby it is suggested that regional authorities and groups of farmers can collectively implement specific incentive based measures beneficial for the climate and environment under Articles 20 and 29 of the Commission proposals. These territorial pacts would be designed according to local and regional characteristics and beneficiaries would have to make a joint commitment to delivering benefits for the protection of biodiversity, soils and water.

Related to their key mission, the EESC opinion is more focussed on economic and socio-economic interests on the ground and particular attention to the linkage between markets and the reformed CAP. It stresses the need to meet the principles of food sovereignty, sustainability and responsiveness to the real needs of farmers and consumers. It emphasises the need to strengthen the producer’s role in the supply chain and deploying effective market instruments to secure stable prices and markets, specifying 10 per cent modulation instead of the proposed 5 per cent and reinforcing the EU position in the world market. It supports greening under Pillar 1 as an important long term strategic move, as well as stressing the need for Pillar 2 measures to accurately reflect the most urgent challenges, such as drought, soil erosion and desertification in southern regions and the cost of drainage in northern regions.

The adopted opinions have been sent to the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament and will be considered in forthcoming discussions. Both Committees can revise these opinions should the reform proposals change substantially following discussions between the Council and Parliament.

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23 May 2012