2014 CAP transition measures agreed
Following a series of closed door trialogue meetings, at an informal meeting on 23 October the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement for the 2014 transition CAP measures for direct payments and rural development. The agreed transitional arrangements in essence carry forward the rules that currently apply for direct payments and rural development under the existing regulations. However, a few amendments have been introduced, which allow certain elements of the agreed CAP reform package to be introduced already in 2014. The texts of the transitional regulations are not yet in the public domain.
The main changes which have been reported in the Council press release are outlined below. It should be noted that this is not a comprehensive list, with details not yet available on transitional arrangements for issues such as cross compliance and the baseline for agri-environment schemes.
Transfers between funds will be permitted from 1 January 2014.
Member States will be allowed to extend the proportion of their Pillar direct payment envelopes used for coupled aid to 6.5 per cent (from 3.5 per cent in the current programming period). The transition measures stipulate that this will need to come from the 10 per cent that is permitted to be spent on ‘special support payments’ under Article 68 of the current direct payment regulations (Council regulation 73/2009). This has been permitted to allow countries to prepare for the implementation of the new regulations in which it will be possible to increase coupled aid to eight per cent for Member States currently spending less than five per cent and up to 13 per cent for those spending less than 10 per cent.
Member States will be able to introduce the redistributive payment for small farmers from 2014 should they wish to do so.
Farmers receiving direct payments below a certain threshold, to be determined by Member States (maximum threshold of €5,000), will be exempt from any linear cuts to direct payments that may need to be made to comply with 2014 national ceilings.
The proposal by the European Parliament to extend state aid for the dairy sector was not agreed by the Council and will therefore cease at the end of 2013.
Under rural development, the suite of measures that exist under the current rural development regulations will continue to apply in 2014. Existing agreements will continue to be able to be funded out of the 2007-13 EAFRD budget under the usual N+2 rules. However, Member States may also approve new agreements for Axis 1 and 2 measures under the existing rules, but financed by the 2014-2020 budget. There was an attempt by the Commission to prevent agreements for investments for which strengthened environmental safeguards that have been put in place under the new EAFRD rules, such as irrigation projects. However this was not agreed as part of the final agreement.
The new rules for rural development will start to apply as soon as the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) are approved and become operational.
This political agreement was approved by the Agriculture Committee in the European Parliament on 4-5 November, and the Plenary on 18-21 November. The formal adoption is expected to happen at first reading in the Council meeting in December.
06 Nov 2013