The month of April was marked by:
- At the level of the European Parliament, MEPs reiterated their call for an increase in the Multiannual Financial Framework and ComAgri specifically expressed its opposition to any reduction in the CAP budget.
- At the level of the European Commission, the submission of the revised MFF, including an Union recovery program, originally scheduled for May 6, has been postponed to May 13. The MFF itself seems to have left the CAP budget reduction proposals unchanged (see FE’s assessment of the EU recovery program, email of 30 April).
- Since then, the Commissioner has sought the support and guidance of a key Member of the European Parliament to intercede in favour of the CAP with the President of the Commission in order to “substantially increase” the planned budget.
04/02 The EU budget to the rescue of the economy
“Some people are talking about a Marshall Plan. The European budget should be the Marshall Plan we lay out together,” von der Leyen said during the presentation of a package aimed at supporting the most affected countries.
“We all know that in this crisis we need quick answers and we cannot take two or three years to invent new tools,” she said, “ the MFF is the strongest tool we have,” von der Leyen said.
“We want to shape the MFF in such a way that is a crucial part of our recovery plan,” the president added.
The Commission will come up with a new draft proposal for the seven-year budget to confront the economic crisis that will follow after the lockdown measures imposed across Europe to limit the spread of the COVID19. While she explained that the priorities – digitalization, decarbonization and resilience – will not change, von der Leyen said the new blueprint will need to be “a very strong investment signal” and mirror the EU’s interests.
04/15 MEPs express concerns to Agri Commissioner
During the exchange of views with Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski on the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, coordinating MEPs from the different political groups expressed their concerns about the place that would be given to the CAP in the revised MFF. The commissioner said he would do his utmost to convince those involved in budget decisions that the CAP provides food security and must be protected for that.
04/17 A strengthened MFF to finance recovery
During a ‘virtual’ mini-plenary session in Brussels, the European Parliament pushed for a massive recovery & reconstruction package to underpin the European economy after the COVID-19 crisis, financed by an increased long-term budget (MFF), existing EU funds & financial instruments such as ‘recovery bonds’ guaranteed by the Community Budget.
04/23 A new MFF for the exit from the health crisis
An internal Commission’s note refers to a €323bn temporary & targeted recovery fund in the MFF, where MFF’s expenditure would be “heavily frontloaded” & geared at recovery & resilience in the economic sectors worst hit. Officials say “key policies” powering “growth & capacity to integrate green & digital technologies will also be strengthened.” Invest EU will become Recover EU & looks set to be double in size, while Horizon will also be reinforced.
This post-coronavirus “Union Recovery Program” would allow the bloc to raise up to €323 billion on the financial markets “with a long maturity” to finance key policies & instruments.
The own resources & MFF architecture would be “adjusted” to ensure repayment capacity for the bonds by the EU budget – perpetual bonds the preferred option. The funds would be used as “assigned revenues” to “reinforce existing spending programs as well as to finance new mechanisms.” The bloc is expected to raise its guarantee potential by increasing the ‘own resources’ ceiling “significantly above the current level of 1.2% of EU GNI”. Officials are considering a temporary increase in the existing ‘own resources’ ceiling by[0,5]% of EU GNI due to the “exceptional needs linked to the Union Recovery Program,” to be available already this year
The core MFF is described as “very much fit for purpose,” referring to EU investments for the Green Deal, just transition, digital transformation, the protection of external borders, management of internal & external aspects of migration, & defense. The MFF package & the recovery programme need to be endorsed by EU leaders in June, followed by a swift agreement with the EP in the autumn. CAP expenditure is not mentioned once in the 4-page draft note.
So at this stage, everything suggests that the new MFF proposal could leave the CAP budget cuts unchanged (see email of 30 April).
04/28 ComAgri against any reduction in CAP’s budget
The approved text by the Agri Committee of the European parliament on Transitional provisions for EAFRD and EAGF support in the year 2021 and until the CAP reform is in place reiterates Parliament’s opposition to any CAP-related budget cuts. MEPs insist that the funding of the EU-27 farm policy must be maintained at the 2014-2020 level in real terms. If the transitional law enters into force before the deal on the future MFF is reached, national ceilings for direct payments, rural development and sectoral support in 2021 and potentially in 2022 should be based on those in the EU’s 2020 budget.
04/30 Commissioner Radio silence on the next CAP budget at ComAgri’s meeting
Asked by ComAgri MEPs about the place of the CAP and its budget in the future MFF and the recovery plan for the EU economy, the Commissioner pointed out that this debate was a matter for governments.
He assured that he would “do his best” to ensure that agriculture finds “the largest possible place” in the negotiations, and concluded by saying that it is “obvious that agriculture will be taken into account as a strategic sector”.
Since then, the Commissioner has sought the support and guidance of the Chairman of the Renew Group (and his predecessor in his post) to intercede on behalf of the CAP with the President of the Commission in order to substantially increase the budget. While the latest version was based on CAP funding down by 12% in real terms, the cursor is not set between a revelation leading to a smaller cut or now a budget in constant value in line with the crisis and the challenges to be met.