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The non-binding CAP Communication, due to be published by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, on 29th November, has been leaked online. The document outlines the Commission’s proposed framework for the future CAP, which very much indicates an evolution, rather than a total reform of the current policy, with moves towards greater Member State flexibility and simplification of bureaucracy.

With regard to risk management, the paper calls for a permanent EU-level platform to be established  to act as “a forum for farmers, public authorities and stakeholders to exchange experiences and best practices…”. Specific mention is also given to encouraging Member States to use taxation policy to help farmers stabilise their income in line with ICOS’s 555 proposal.

It seeks to establish more balanced and better targeted direct payments, through a capping of support, and focus on active farmers, as well as further minimising the difference in CAP supports between older and newer (western and eastern) Member States.

In addition, the paper calls for more ambitious and results focused environmental measures, stating that the current framework of cross compliance, green direct payments and voluntary agri-environment measures will be replaced with one integrated, locally-targeted approach.

Financial instruments, including low cost, long-term loans supported by the European Investment Bank, will also play a key role in the future policy, to make up for the potential shortfall in budget going forward. It is proposed they are used to support rural entrepreneurs (with a specific focus on new businesses within the bio economy and circular economy), on-farm investments, and new entrants in their initial capital investments, as well as to help farmers overcome temporary cash flow shortages.

Alison Graham

European Affairs Executive