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CEJA column, Issue 18, April 2015

In this month’s regular column, Matteo Bartolini President of CEJA (European Council of Young Farmers) looks at the prospects for simplification of the CAP.

MF: Why do we need a simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)?
MB: The CAP is one of the European Union’s most far-reaching, complicated and intricate policies. More importantly, it is one of the EU’s most ‘common’ policies, spanning different geographical areas, landscapes, soil types and farming traditions. Not only that, but it is a policy which provides different amounts of income support to every single eligible farmer in the Union. This, understandably, makes it a lengthy and complex policy which can sometimes cause administrative burden for Member States, businesses and individual farmers. Therefore, it is essential that CAP Simplification is explored extensively. Now that the new CAP has been in place since the beginning of the year, the EU institutions want to look through what has been agreed and where improvements can be made, as well as what can be done better next time.

MF: What is the background to CAP simplification?
MB: The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, has identified CAP Simplification as one of his priorities for 2015. This is also in the context of the new Commission’s Work Programme, headed up by Commission President Juncker, which highlights ‘Better Regulation’ as a core objective for EU policy. A first action plan on CAP Simplification was published in 2006, and since then there has been an ongoing CAP Simplification exercise. At the outset, the exercise will focus mostly on delegated and implementing acts, which help to put in place the detailed rules needed to implement the reformed CAP. Commissioner Hogan has already said that he will review the rules on environmental focus areas among more than 200 other Commission regulations that will be considered for simplification.

MF: How is this relevant to young farmers?
MB: Considering that the new CAP featured measures for young farmers including the areas of Direct Payments and Rural Development, the issue of young farmers is also particularly relevant to the CAP Simplification exercise. It is crucial that young farmers are able to implement the rules without unnecessary administrative burden and to ensure that the measures can be used effectively to achieve the objectives for which they were included in the CAP in the first place. These objectives were the promotion of generational renewal in the EU’s farming population and the increase of young farmer numbers in every Member State, facilitated by installation aid and a top-up of direct payments for them in their first and hardest years of business.

MF: How is CEJA getting involved?
MB: To ensure these measures are effective in their aims and not tied up in unnecessary red tape,. CEJA will consult with representatives of all our member organisations in a bid to compile comprehensive, effective and useful answers to the CAP Simplification exercise from the young famer perspective. We will pass these on to the Commissioner and we’ll be consistently available for consultation and feedback.

MF: What has CEJA done so far?
MB: We have already hosted a working group meeting in Brussels with young farmer leaders from across the EU. Here they were informed of CAP implementation and simplification developments by Commission experts before being given the space for open, honest and fruitful discussion on the subject.

MF: At what stage is the CAP Simplification process and what happens next?
MB: The CAP Simplification exercise is currently officially open, while last month’s AGRIFISH Council meeting featured a policy debate on the subject between Ministers. The most important issues highlighted were greening measures and controls. The Commissioner has also addressed the European Parliament’s Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI) on the topic. COMAGRI MEPs have long called for CAP rules to be simplified with a view to reducing the administrative burden for farmers. CAP Simplification is also being discussed in the Council’s working parties and at the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA). These actions aim to prepare the ground for the adoption of Council Conclusions on CAP Simplification in May 2015. Following this, the Commission is expected to make a presentation at the Council towards the end of the year on its detailed Simplification agenda.

If you would like to get in touch with Matteo Bartolini or CEJA, email allusers@ceja.eu

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