Reforming the Reform: More change likely to the CAP

View this post in Welsh | Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg

Since his nomination for the post, the new EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, has made it clear that he intends to work towards simplification of the CAP and in particular further simplification of the new CAP requirements. The latest version of the CAP only entered fully into force on the 1 January 2015 but it looks like it could already be heading for change.

Commissioner Hogan has committed to undertake a review of how the new CAP is working by the end of 2015 with a pledge to introduce any amendments very soon thereafter. Commissioner Hogan’s willingness to consider further simplification has already led to several suggestions being put forward by MEP’s and Member States whilst Environment NGOs have warned against further weakening of the reform’s green credentials.

Phil Hogan Under Scrutiny at the European Parliament, "© European Union 2014 - European Parliament" licensed under Creative Commons

Phil Hogan under scrutiny at the European Parliament, “© European Union 2014 – European Parliament” licensed under Creative Commons

A letter has now been sent by Commissioner Hogan to Member States to ask for their suggestions for simplification by the end of February 2015. In his letter AGRAFACTS reports that the Commissioner has outlined three key principles with which any suggestions for simplification will need to comply:

  • The basic political decisions taken on the content of the reform package in 2013 should remain in place therefore suggestions for simplification should concentrate on amendments that can be made with the current policy framework.
  • Suggestions shouldn’t weaken the financial management of the CAP.
  • Member States should prioritise areas of greatest concern to stakeholders and where a reduction in the administrative burden would benefit the entire farming community.

The current Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union has outlined that it hopes to get agreement between Member States on key areas for simplification at the Agriculture Council meeting on 11 May 2015. The Welsh Government will need to communicate any of its priorities through the UK Government if it wants to influence any conclusions reached in the Council.

Many Member States have already suggested that the greening requirements of the CAP are an area where they would like to see significant simplification. Both the UK and Scottish Governments have outlined this as a priority. NFU Cymru has also been supportive of a simplification of these rules.

If a clear consensus of simplification measures emerges by the end of 2015 this could mean changes to the Policy only twelve months after it came into force.

Article by Nia Seaton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service.