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Closing of international conference „CAP: Past and Future”

27.06.12 | News

Event

The Common Agricultural Policy is among the strongest EU policies by virtue of its impact not only on the farming community, but also on all citizens of the European Union”, stated Mrs. Svetlana Boyanova, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food, at international conference „CAP: Past and Future”. The event took place on 26th-27th June 2012 in Sofia under the patronage of Mr. Miroslav Naydenov, Minister of Agriculture and Food of the Republic of Bulgaria. Deputy Minister Boyanova emphasized the fact that the Bulgarian position is in support of a strong policy, combined with its proper financing, as the policy not only supplies food, but also provides employment and protects the environment. She paid attention to the need of flexibility in introducing the mandatory “green” component of the future CAP, taking into consideration the specifics of each member-state. The introduction of that kind of direct payment should be conducted in a manner providing for optimum environmental benefits, without posing a threat on the sector’s viability. In her opinion, “the application of a “green” component has good logical grounding, but the proposed 30% share under Pillar 1 and 25% under Pillar 2 is too high and calls for a more flexible approach. Mrs. Boyanova explained that this would ensure a more effective targeting of the aid and spending of funds.

“We expect as a major effect of the reform the fair treatment of all farmers throughout the European Union, regardless of the country”, added Mrs. Boyanova.

Mr. Mihail Dumitru, Director Rural Development Programmes at DG Agriculture & Rural Development emphasized that the possibility of simplifying CAP is subject to a debate. “We aim at providing more simple rules, aid distribution system and access to the resources for the next period”, Mr. Dumiru stated. “We’re in the middle of a very dynamic process of negotiations for attempting to reform one of the oldest EU policies. We’re pressed for time and we will very soon have to explain to both agricultural producers and the national administrations what shall be expected in the future. All this will be decided on EU level and will then have to be brought in line with national legislations. The EU plans to provide 4.02 bln. Euro worth of subsidies in the next programming period to 2020 for R&D promptly applicable in agriculture”, he added.

Much interest was attracted by the CAP vision statements of the member-states participant in the project. Mr. Jaanus Heinsar, representative of the Estonian ministry of Agriculture declared his country’s great concern with the varying direct-payment rates between the member states, adding that there is sometimes a difference as big as 5 times. The Estonian government’s position is that direct payments to Estonian farmers shall be increased to 90% of the EU average.

Mrs. Maria Aguas, representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Sea, Environment and Spatial Planning of Portugal shared that CAP proves to be a very important instrument.

Thanks to it, conditions have been established in the country for compliance to all EU regulations and introduction of best practices in agriculture, as well as in fishery and forestry. As regards food industry, Mrs. Aguas made the point that thanks to CAP and regardless of the economic hardships at present, this sector continues on the development and growth course.

Mrs. Marisa Marmara, authorized by the Ministry of Resources and Rural Affairs of Malta, presented the position of her country on the CAP reform. On the issue of direct payments under Pillar 1, Mrs. Marmara pointed out that their rate is rather low compared to other countries. “We’d like to see more flexibility and possibilities for maneuvering between the two individual pillars, so that greater equality between the member-states could be achieved. One of the challenges faced by Malta is how to attract young people to farming and secure a possibility for larger scale action in the presence of a specific problem, such as the significant fragmentation of agricultural land in the country. It would be a great option for us if a permission is granted for transfer of resources from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2, precisely in order to provide a possibility for additional stimuli to young farmers, especially in the first five years of their economic activity”, Mrs. Marmara explained.

Mrs. Violeta Stanicic, Head of the EP Information Bureau in Bulgaria announced that the debate on CAP and its future will actively continue and on 14th September Mrs. Mariya Nedelcheva, MEP, will take a leading part in it and present the latest developments in the AGRI Committee discussions of the 7 draft regulations and the ways the different member states defend their CAP-related interests.

The two-day event took place within the “CAP: Return to the Future” information campaign and covered 4 EU member-states – Bulgaria, Estonia, Malta and Portugal. The project is implemented due to the 50th Anniversary of the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU and is co-financed by the European Commission's DG for Agriculture and Rural Development. The conference was attended by over 120 experts in the field of agriculture, including representatives of ministries, branch organizations, NGOs, the media, educational institutions, as well as students at vocational schools of agriculture. The nearly 30 participants from Malta, Portugal and Estonia took active part in the various thematic panels and discussions.