Transitional provisions relating to the support of the EAFRD and the EAGF during the year 2021 and until the implementation of the CAP reform

After mentioning the main agricultural sectors hit by the crisis, the Commissioner recalled the actions already taken by the Commission in reaction to the crisis. With regard to market interventions, the Commissioner mentioned that, at the end of the programming period, the funds available were very limited. He finally – without anything new – transferred responsibility for the action to the member states, through state aid and unrestricted funds for rural development.

The coordinators of the parliamentary groups reacted to the intervention of the Commissioner and stated:

  • That the current measures are useful but insufficient;
  • Finding funds is essential to support sectors during and after the crisis;
  • It is necessary to use intervention measures on the markets and to use the emergency measures of the CMO regulation (art.219-222), including the crisis reserve;
  • The necessary legal changes must be made so that MS can use the funds of the 2nd pillar for farms and processing companies;
  • The F2F and Biodiversity strategies (except for the Greens) must be postponed until after the crisis;
  • The importance of food security will need to be reflected in the future MFF.

Concerning the transitional CAP regulation, the package of amendments for crisis management and agricultural risks was not mentioned by the rapporteur Elsi Katainen, but the shadow rapporteur for the EPP underlined this point and indicated that this is an essential point for the group. She had registered before the start of the session the support of the S&D group. He had registered the support of the S&D group before the start of the session.

Exchange of views with Janusz Wojciechowski, Commissioner for Agriculture, on the impact of the Covid-19 on the agricultural sector

Intervention by Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski

After having mentioned the main agricultural sectors hit by the crisis, namely meat, milk, fruit and vegetables and horticulture, the Commissioner recalled the interventions already proposed by the Commission in response to the crisis.

He recalled that it first acted to restore the fluidity of transport on which the food system largely depends, by setting up green corridors for agricultural products, food and live animals. The Commissioner considered that the situation has greatly improved.

The action also focused on the movement of seasonal workers with the establishment of guidelines to facilitate their movement.

Le Commissaire a encore cité les mesures de report d’un mois pour les demandes de paiements directs, la possibilité de recevoir des avances de paiements jusqu’à 75% pour les aides du 1er pilier et 85% pour celles du 2d pilier. In situ control operations have also been simplified.

While these measures have been welcomed by organizations representing the various agricultural sectors, the main problem remaining in the eyes of the Commissioner is that of falling prices, particularly in the dairy sector. The Commission will intervene on this market by setting up product storage, and similar initiatives are envisaged for the meat sector, without specifying which or when.

Especially since, with regard to market interventions, the Commissioner mentioned that, at the end of the programming period, the funds available were very limited, and that all the decisions of the Commission had to take this constraint into account.

The Commissioner therefore transferred responsibility for the action to the Member States, via state aid and unrestricted funds for rural development, without anything new. He thus evoked the possibility of action which is offered to them to resort to assistance up to 100,000 euros per farm and 800,000 euros for a processing center for agro-food products And above all, he called on them, once again, to use their unspent funds from the 2nd pillar – 6 billion euros – suggesting on their part that projects be abandoned in order to support the most affected sectors. Note however that this figure is subject to caution. For some countries, it includes funds that have not yet been used but are committed and therefore not actually available. Referring to the next steps to be taken – after those immediately aimed at ensuring the survival of agricultural holdings – the Commissioner raised the question of the means to improve the resilience of European agriculture. 3 billion tonnes of food pass through on both sides of the EU each year, and sectors are highly dependent on very specific supply chains. Thinking about the future on how to strengthen the diversity of agriculture, to be more resilient, is a point to study.

Reactions of the coordinators of the political groups

For Herbert Dorfmann, of the EPP, it is not possible to stick to saying that the funds are not there. It will take money to bounce back from this crisis. Furthermore, invoking the use by MS of funds from the second pillar amounts to penalizing those who have correctly allocated all the funds.

Mr. Dorfmann also expressed concern about the debate on the MFF for the end of the crisis and the place which will be given to it for agriculture.

Finally, he reiterated the call to establish priorities, postponing until the heart of the crisis the strategies from Farm to Fork and on Biodiversity.

Paolo De Castro, S&D, praising the opening of facilitated loans to farmers called for more. The 460 million euros available for measures articles 219 to 221 of the CMO regulation for crisis situations should be able to be used as quickly as possible, and even increased.

Pour des secteurs si durement touchés tels que le vin, le lait, la flexibilité offerte dans le 2nd pilier ne suffit pas, les EM doivent utiliser les mesures à leur disposition dans l’OCM fruits, vin et si nécessaire il faut augmenter la part communautaire à 70%.

What has been adopted for fishermen should be taken as an example for the agricultural sector.

“When are you going to act?” asked Ulrike Müller of Renew Europe, referring to emergency measures such as private storage for the fruit and vegetables, milk and meat sectors.

On the subject of the upcoming MFF, with transfers of funds between policies, Mrs Müller asked if the Commission would still draw on the agricultural budget. If the CAP funds were further reduced, this would call the CAP into question. Is the Commission planning a new proposal in this case? With a closer link between DR and eco-regimes? A proposal taking more account of the New Deal, and the place of agriculture, by avoiding overloads on the shoulders of farmers in terms of controls? And opening up other possibilities such as replacing plastics?

Mrs. Müller concluded by expressing the desire of her group to be able to interact more with the Commissioner during this period.

Ivan David, ID spoke about the problems that the crisis is revealing, including those related to emergency response and the security of the food supply. He asked what could be done to shorten food journeys and improve national and regional self-sufficiency.

The maximum aid of 100,000 euros per farm, which disadvantages certain countries, is a proposal to be reviewed.

Mr. David referring to the additional cost that the ambitious F2F strategy would cause for European agricultural production suggested the suspension of the latter.

Martin Häusling of the Greens said that the measures announced, including transfers between pillars, were insufficient. Emergency aid for farmers is needed immediately and will be needed in the next MFF as well.

The greater vulnerability of exported productions invites us to bet more on local circuits.

The unwillingness to let in foreign workers will be problematic.

Mr Häusling expressed his disagreement with the EPP and the Socialists regarding the green pact and the F2F strategy, “we must not pretend that the biodiversity crisis has been suspended”.

For the dairy and other markets, voluntary production limitation should be preferred to private storage.

As for the trilogues for the CAP regulations, they risk being postponed beyond the vote of the new MFF in the fall.

Zbigniew Kuzmiuk, ECR, referred to the letter co-signed by some 20 deputies from several groups to include an article in DR legislation allowing the support of farms and processing companies destroyed by the epidemic, in order to give governments the possibility of ‘act in this direction. (note that the proposal is to use the measure “reconstitution of production following destruction” of the 2nd pillar to pass on cash aid to farms, which is not without questioning certain departments and lawyers of the commission)

Awareness of the importance of food security should motivate everyone’s efforts in negotiating for the future MFF.

The F2F and Biodiversity strategies must be postponed to focus on food security.

Luke Flanagan, GUE NGL said that the current crisis highlights the importance of considering the issue of food security in the next CAP. He also mentioned the export quotas currently set by countries such as Ukraine, Vietnam and Algeria. Regarding the MFF, Flanagan said that the current crisis would make it even more difficult to reach an agreement and that money will have to be found elsewhere, for example in defense.

Commissioner’s response

The Commissioner has expressed his full agreement with the success of the CAP which the current crisis situation reveals. “Agriculture has passed the test with flying colors”, and this is a signal to be heard in strengthening EU agriculture.

On the future of the CAP, the Commissioner said that he would do his utmost to convince those involved in budget decisions that the CAP provides food security and that it must be protected for that. Giving more aid to the CAP is a lesson from the crisis, he said.

With regard to the Green Pact, the Commissioner mentioned its importance for working on a more resilient, more heterogeneous agriculture, more connected to local markets and less dependent on external markets and transport. F2F and biodiversity strategies must be strengthened and integrate these lessons from the current crisis, so that food security is further strengthened.

With regard to funds from the second pillar, the Commissioner recognized that the situation was unfair, by favoring MS that had not allocated everything. But he wanted to recall that 37 billion of cohesion policy could still be allocated in the fight against the crisis. Thus, a margin of around 15% is available in many MS (82% allocated in FR, 86 in DE, 85 in SP) However, it should be noted, even if the Commissioner did not take it into account that the FR , for example, seems to have committed more than 100% of the DR budget over the period, anticipating a consumption of part of the next budget to honor the commitments already made. So availability would be zero).

The proposal mentioned by Mr. Kuzmiuk on support for destroyed production capacity will be studied, but these funds from the 2nd pillar will not be used anyway to compensate for the loss of income.

MEPs’ reactions

Anne Sander, EPP, called on the Commissioner to act without delay:

  • by mobilizing in the CMO measures for private storage, green harvesting, crisis distillation, withdrawal from the market and management of import quotas;
  • using section 219 or the full powers of section 221;
  • by authorizing crisis cartels, and by triggering article 222.

Eric Andrieu, S&D recalling that 24 of the 27 MS requested urgent action on the markets also mentioned stockpiling, national aid but also the use of Articles 219 to 221 of the CMO, the use of sectoral provisions for fruits and vegetables, wine. The 460 million from the crisis reserve must be used, as must the funds for national programs.

Asger Christensen, Renew, drew attention to the 100 million euro impacted flower sector in Denmark, and asked how to help farmers as the F2F strategy is about to arrive.

Maired McGuinness, EPP, whose intervention was disrupted for technical reasons, mentioned the major problems encountered by the beef sector and repeated that it is not possible to answer that there is no money.

Clara Aguilera, S&Drecalling that the administrative measures adopted were insufficient asked, within the framework of the CMO regulation, to activate the crisis reserve, to take measures to reduce the supply, private storage of milk, without forgetting the sheep and goat sectors, and to activate flexibility instruments. She also recalled that the use of the 2d pillar was not enough, as many programs no longer have funds available in Spain.

Angelo Ciocca, ID asking for an EU response to the magnitude of the impacts mentioned the extraordinary plan for agriculture deployed in the USA.

Mrs Tilly Metz, Greens, asked if the Commission noted the lack of resilience of the current agricultural system, which is largely dependent on intensive production and the circulation of goods. She also called the link between intensive farming, antibiotic use and pandemics “obvious”. She called for the promotion of short circuits, especially for live animals, and for a paradigm shift, towards more sustainable agriculture, with a coherent F2F strategy.

Daniel Buda, EPP wondered not to have heard of the mobilization of the emergency reserve by the EC, and does not understand what the EC expects to allow the storage of dairy products. He also asked whether the EC intended to partially compensate for the price losses.

Bert-Jan Ruissen, ECR, called for urgent recourse to exceptional market measures in Article 221 of the CMO, in particular for the flowers and ornamental plants, potato, milk and meat sectors. Use of section 222 is also necessary. Finally, funds outside the CAP must be mobilized to help farmers in this crisis.

Jérémy Decerle, Renew Europerequested the immediate implementation of production reduction, private storage and crisis distillation authorizations. Unused margins from the agricultural budget must be mobilized.

Carmen Avram, S&D asked about the measures available to ensure the safety of seasonal workers moving from one country to another, and asked how to ensure that MS do not introduce unfair terms into workers’ contracts because of the exceptional measures which would have been adopted.

Juan Ignacio Zoido, EPP, also said that the current administrative measures were insufficient. He asked for the intervention of the CMO to help small and medium-sized wine producers as well as European compensation to support national wine programs. He also wants compensation for losses linked to destruction of production in the flowers sector.

Chris MacManus, GUE / NGL called for public intervention to avoid falling prices and the elimination of non-EU imports of beef and lamb.Marlene Mortler, EPP asked for the current circumstances to be taken into account in terms of reducing controls, but also in F2F and Biodiversity strategies. She also questioned the Commissioner on the action taken for the agro-tourism sector.

Commissioner’s response

The Commission is well aware of the requests for intervention on the markets, but it can only act within the limits of the funds available, namely 100 million operational funds for production organizations in the dairy sector and 190 million in the horticultural sector. Funds also exist for promotion operations.

The Commission is also studying what resources outside the CAP could be mobilized in this crisis, the scale of which is such that this policy is not equipped to deal with it.

The Commissioner reiterated his invitation that the MS should use the 6 billion funds from the second pillar still available for mobilization, public aid, and recalled that the 11 billion that will be made available gradually will also allow intervention on the markets.

The proposal to adapt the DR rules to allow production tools destroyed by the crisis to be supported with these funds will be evaluated.

Within the framework of the Green Pact, the EC is working on a proposal to correct intensive farming, which however does not weaken the food security of Europeans. This pact remains a priority of the EC.

The Commissioner said he was in favor of using the crisis reserve, and finally insisted on defending agriculture for European food security in the discussions on the future MFF.

As an aside, the committee mentioned the idea that member states reduce or cancel investment measures to free up money in the 2nd pillar. This idea challenges in view of the economic recovery plan that the President of the Commission announces and which will highlight in particular investment aid…

Transitional provisions relating to support for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) during the year 2021 (and following)

Martin Hlavacek, Renew Europe recalled that 400 compromise amendments have been tabled on the Elsi Katainen report. Negotiations on these amendments continue and the vote on this report is scheduled for ComAgri on April 28.

Elsi Katainen, Renew Europe, rapporteur on this dossier, presented an overview of the process and the content of the negotiations.

  • The process is on schedule despite the specific conditions.
  • We have reached a solid set of compromises, which covers the main issues proposed by the members of this committee and which ensures stability and continuity for the sector.
  • The texts comply with the current CAP rules (…) also introduces new separate rules.
  • On the duration of the transition period: agreement on the conditional modality, which amounts to fixing the deadline in October for the adoption and publication of the reform of the CAP and the MFF; otherwise, the transitional period will be 2 years, which seems to be looming for the moment.
  • A strong signal must be sent for the negotiations on the MFF and the 2021 budget, rejecting any reduction in agricultural funding. This crisis shows once again the importance of food security.
  • We also discussed a longer duration for the non-chained operational programs on fruit and vegetables, possibly for longer commitments of one to five years on agri-environment, organic farming and animal welfare, with the adoption of strategic plans, the continuation of national transitional aid and other similar systems: greater spending flexibility and more balanced approval processes for extensions of rural development programs.
  • The extension of the current system for authorizing vineyard planting rights for the duration of the transitional period and the maintenance of current funding for POSEIs and the Aegean islands.

This package guarantees continuity and some security for farmers and bridges the gap for the next programming period.

Interventions of the shadow rapporteurs

Álvaro Amaro, EPP, recalled that this regulation must prepare for the future by working on measures that will mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. Making sectors more resilient and ensuring predictability is a priority, this is not the time for experiments. The length of the period is appropriate, the additions are reasonable, but certain points are not included in the list of compromises. The text is a solid basis for the trialogue.

Two points deserve special support: i) the package for risk and crisis management as presented by Anne Sander ii) the amendment to article 5 number 1 on the issue of mountain farmers presented by Simone Schmiedtbauer.

Clara Aguilera, S&D: the meeting was being held without translation, no contribution came from her side but she had indicated before the meeting that she joined the points made by her colleague EPP.

Francisco Gueirrero, Greens, mentioned 2 aspects which are not reflected in the compromises:

  • • flexibility in the transfer of funds: The EC proposal could be made to the detriment of farmers, MS should not be allowed to request a partial extension of the DR and regional programs, the CMO proposal does not not allow, which means that if the MS still have CAP funds in progress, it will not be possible to cover part of the transitional programs with these funds + the CMO also requests a complete extension of all the programs – some are insufficient, but we can still change this in the transitional regulation and the MFF
  • • convergence: The EC proposes to suspend this process, by allowing this we stabilize unfair practices and we must support the amendments which allow convergence

Ivan David, ID, said that even a 2-year transitional period would not be enough.

For Petros Cokkalis, GUE / NGL, it is a success that an agreement was reached on more than 20 compromises on this transitional settlement and the timetable for this critical matter.

  • a clear decision protects funding; therefore, support for the compromise amendment for the two-year period with its conditionality, support for the amendment which allows the funding of the next financial period to be used to finance commitments in progress when funds are exhausted;
  • also supporting the fact that MS can set a longer period, up to five years, for new commitments in organic farming, animal welfare and environmental requirements programs, as well as the compromise which allows to extend the duration of the programs in the fruit and vegetables sectors and the planting rights in the wine sector during the transitional period. Mazaly Aguilar, ECR, has expressed his full support for the rapporteur’s work on this dossier and approves the compromise plans and the solution to certain essential concerns concerning the figures, the length of the transition period, the national transitional aid , and the question of convergence being the subject of a separate vote.

Intervention by the European Commission

  • it is a good basis for moving to the next phase
  • the vast majority of the amendments are in line with the principle underlying the CMO proposal, namely the continuity of the current rules during the transitional period – this could help us quickly reach a conclusion in the Trialogues, which is in everyone’s interest
  • The position of the EC is that it is ready to review its position as developments in the reform of the CAP and the MFF arise at this time.
  • convergence: subject to negotiations on the MFF, the final figures given there will serve as a basis for the transitional regulation and will be inserted here
  • for the extension of DR programs: MS should decide whether a program is extended during the transitional period in its entirety or not at all, there is no partial extension, except for regional programs.
  • Articles 6 and 7 – we will have to find solutions to deal with these questions, probably by including them in the reform regulations because, otherwise, they would not be operational (they were initially planned to be adopted at the same time as the regulations of the reform, but the fact is that the transition regulation risks being adopted before those of the reform).

Concluding remarks by rapporteur Elsi Katainen

Mrs Katainen thanked the Greens for the remarks on the problems linked to flexibility measures. These elements as well as those linked to convergence will be independent packages allowing to be voted separately.

The vote on 28 will be an opportunity to give a clear signal from the European Parliament to farmers.