Changes to how farmers receive their single farm payment are likely to be delayed way beyond the European Commission’s 2014 deadline for CAP reform, according to the NFU.
Maeve Whyte, director of the NFU’s Brussels office, said debate about what the proposals will look like was still going ahead between leaders in Europe – despite the plans being formally unveiled by European farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos on Wednesday (12 October).
Speaking at an NFU council meeting in Leamington Spa on Tuesday (11 October), Ms Whyte said plans would be finalised just hours before the official announcement at 11.30am (BST).
And she admitted ‘anything could happen’, despite official European timetables insisting reform would be in place by 1 January 2014.
“There are a number of factors which will affect that timetable – co-decision between the Commission and the European Parliament is likely to take longer that the anticipated 18 months,” she said.
“Parliament could delay it as long as possible if they don’t like the proposals.”
National elections in France and Germany were also likely to delay reform talks as MPs were unlikely to tackle the difficult subject when it could impact upon their standing back home.
EU budget discussions would also delay any agreement on CAP budgets, she added.
Gail Soutar, NFU senior CAP advisor, said while reforms plans were likely to differ in some aspects from the versions leaked in recent weeks, the Commission’s visions for the future of EU agriculture was disappointing – particularly in respect of ‘greening’ direct support.
“We look as though we are going to be left with a more complex system that’s more about social and environmental aspects and damaging competitiveness,” she said.
“We are seeing it as a system of rules and hurdles that says regulation will dictate farmers’ decisions rather than the market.”
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