Third of direct payments ‘to depend on greening’

Almost a third of direct support payments will depend on farmers carrying out environmental measures, proposals by the European Commission have suggested.

Plans to “green” subsidies as part of reform of the CAP will see 30% of Europe’s direct support budget go towards mandatory measures which will aim to improve the environment.

The commission said introducing a greening element to Pillar 1 support would make European agriculture more sustainable.

In a 25-page document setting out plans for CAP budgets from 2014 to 2020, the commission said all farmers must engage in environmental practices to obtain their full share of direct support.

It is the first time the commission has set a definite figure on the amount of subsidy it wants to set aside for greening measures. Rumours had suggested the amounts could have been anything between 20% and 60% of the total budget for Pillar 1.

The document, which was released following discussions on Wednesday (29 July), said the commission would maintain the budget available to agriculture at €371.7bn over the next funding period (2014-2020).

In real terms, that would result in a fall of about 2% a year, meaning the annual budget for direct payments will gradually decline from €43bn in 2013 down to €38bn in 2020.

In addition to setting out plans for greening Pillar 1, the document also sets out aims to cap direct support payments to limit the basic level of income received by large farms.

The commission said it also wants to limit CAP support so that it only goes to active farmers, as well as simplifying the payment system for small farmers to reduce red tape and bureaucracy.

European farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos said the budget proposals confirmed the commission’s plans for “ambitious reform”.

He said direct payments would remain at the heart of agricultural support in Europe, but that aid had to be allocated in a more “equitable way”.

“At the same time, we will keep solid rural development programmes, with a consistent level of support, at the centre of the future CAP – in contrast to some of the rumours that have been circulating in recent weeks,” he said.

“I would like to underline that all of these funds will be exclusively available to agriculture because the CAP will be recentred around fundamental objectives.”

Mr Ciolos said the commission would present its legislative proposals for the reform of the CAP in the autumn.

* CAP budget set to decline steadily

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