The European Commission has defended its controversial plans for greening the CAP as a simple measure which gives farmers flexibility to produce food while enhancing the environment.

Gwilym Jones, a member of agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos’ cabinet, said greening measures were fairly easy and basic, leaving UK farmers with little difficulty in complying.

Speaking at a House of Lords EU Select Committee meeting in London on Wednesday (11 September), Mr Jones said there had been much criticism of the planned greening regulation, thanks in part to “mispackaged information”.

“We think it’s justified in terms of the public good it delivers,” he said.

“Those who don’t like [greening] talk about high levels of complexity, whereas others say we haven’t been brave enough.

“There will always be critics out there, but we think it’s a reasonably flexible instrument which has been extensively discussed.”

Mr Jones said the commission was still thrashing out the final points of the reform with the European Parliament and that the package needed to be agreed as a matter of urgency so it could be implemented by 2015.

The major sticking points between the two bodies were the transfer of funds between Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 and capping of payments, he added.

“Parliament is arguing for a higher level of degressivity [capping] and a lower level of transfer.

“We all realise that farmers need this deal to be put to bed so it can be rolled out properly.

“People need to be pragmatic and come to the table, and that’s what we are pushing everyone to do.”

Mr Jones said there would always be contentious areas in reshaping the CAP, but that the outcome of the reform provided farmers and member states with the tools to create sustainable farming systems.

“You can’t have it all ways and we shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger picture,” he told the committee.

“We have finally ended quota and moved towards an extremely high level of decoupled payments.

“Farmers need to be more proactive about what they need, but the toolbox is there and member states need to think about how to implement them in a way that makes sense.

“This is a first important step to make sure the basic elements of sustainable farming practice are being rolled out across Europe.”

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