Negotiations between the EU Commission, Council and Parliament are still on-going regarding the so-called “Omnibus Regulation”. This regulation proposes revisions to the EU’s multiannual budget (2014-2020) and includes amendments to the rules and controls within the basic legislation of CAP.
These changes are primarily aimed at fine-tuning and simplifying certain elements of the current policy. However, despite an initial timetable for the Omnibus Regulation to come into effect on 1st January 2018, discussions between the institutions have stalled over a number of proposals which have come from the European Parliament, including a call for the establishment of “Bargaining Organisations”. Definitions which have been provided for these organisations so far have been vague, however generally it is proposed that they would act as a “pre-producer organisation”, which would negotiate contracts on behalf of groups of producers, with processors and retailers.
The measure is being opposed by both the Council and the Commission, as well as by ICOS and the European association of agri-cooperatives, Cogeca. The main issues are:
- It goes beyond the scope of the changes proposed by the Commission, who do not want the Omnibus Regulation to be used as a mini-CAP reform.
- Producer Organisations already provide this sort of action, where needed or desired by farmers. Creating a new category of organisation would only confuse and add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the supply chain.
- Producer Organisations must fulfil certain minimum criteria in order to be established- this is important from the perspective of competition law. Enabling organisations which do not fulfil these minimum criteria undermines both producer organisations and co-operatives.
There are further concerns that conflict on this (and other issues, including amendments to incorporate a production reduction scheme in times of crisis into the CAP on a permanent basis), could delay the implementation of the Omnibus Regulation and in turn the future CAP post 2020 proposal. However for the time being the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan still intends to publish a non-binding communication on the 29th of November and a legislative proposal by mid-2018.
By Alison Graham
European Affairs Executive
28 May 2021