Reaction to EU Budget deal
Reaction to EU Budget deal
The NFU has given its reaction after a cut to the EU’s long term budget for 2014-20 was agreed by the Heads of Government for the first time in history. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will also be reduced.
The deal now opens the way to an agreement on CAP Reform, which the Irish Presidency hope to conclude in June. For the NFU, the two absolutely critical points are that the UK, and our members, are treated fairly both in budgetary terms and in terms of the ‘greening’ conditions that are imposed on them.
NFU President Peter Kendall said: “The NFU has consistently stated that it would be unrealistic to expect the CAP could be exempt from cuts, when all public expenditure across Europe is under pressure. The important thing for us is to ensure that the UK is treated fairly and equitably.
“The Heads of Government have introduced some improvements in the Commission’s proposals as they affect agricultural spending. For example, they have agreed that ‘greening’ of the CAP will not require land to be taken out of production and that ‘capping’ of the payments to larger farmers will be voluntary at Member State level.”
Now that this deal has been reached unanimously by 27 Heads of Government, it is important that neither the overall budget figures nor the detailed points of agreement are unpicked by the European Parliament.
Mr Kendall said: “A regrettable part of the budgetary deal is the confirmation that Member States or regions can move up to 15 per cent of their Pillar 1 (single payment scheme) budget to Pillar 2 (rural development) without any obligation for national treasuries to matchfund; and all Member States can move 15 per cent and some up to 25 per cent in the other direction. For the NFU, there is no justification for Defra to move money from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2. The ‘greening’ of the first Pillar reduces the need for spending in Pillar 2. Furthermore, to reduce our farmers’ payments, which are already well below the EU average, and at a time when others may increase theirs, would be to compound an already unfair situation.
“In terms of greening, English farmers must be given a choice of measures and must not face higher conditions than others in Europe. Some will qualify for the greening payment through membership of environmental stewardship schemes; others must have the choice of complying with common European measures.”
NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller said: “First and foremost, we must acknowledge the importance that any budget deal has been done; this gives us some long-awaited certainty that a CAP deal may be reached under the Irish Presidency, which is more in tune with Scotland’s priorities than many other Member States would be. No budget could be left untouched by the stranglehold of austerity, however, and the impact on national envelopes is still unclear; that said, we know already of sweeteners negotiated by some Member States, with bolt-on payments for rural development funding, putting pressure on an already weakened Pillar 2 budget. It is highly fortunate that several of the key players on the CAP and budget deals will be at NFU Scotland’s AGM at the start of next week, giving Scotland’s farmers unprecedented access to politicians, their staff and other union officials who are about to embark on the next stage of this complex process of CAP negotiation.”