Last week’s negotiations ended in failure on Friday. Parliament and Member States are struggling to converge their objectives. Talks are expected to resume in June, but the urgency is palpable.
The shock of ambition in the face of the constraints of pragmatism. The negotiations around the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which were held in the middle of last week in Brussels, resulted, on Friday morning, in a finding of failure. “Many crucial issues remain unresolved. It was decided to postpone the discussions, ”indicated the Presidency of the Council (the body which brings together the Member States).
Theoretically, the great ambitions of the future CAP, which is due to take effect in early 2023, are consensual. How to reject the project of a more ecological agriculture, more concerned with social equity and more flexible in its implementation? But between the voluntarism of the European Parliament and the very political constraints of governments, the confrontation turned into a dialogue of the deaf.
Member States fear to see themselves locked in a framework of great administrative complexity and potentially far removed from the real expectations of farmers. While in the European Commission’s project, they would have room for maneuver to nationally decline the green ambitions of the European Union, Parliament fears that this freedom will drift towards anarchy, each state making its small arrangements far Brussels constraints – even if it means, in the least virtuous countries on the democratic level, to allocate European funds to the friends of the power in place …
From the point of view of the Member States, this flexibility is necessary, in particular with regard to “eco-schemes”, these new ecological devices to which the CAP will have to encourage farmers.
EU countries want not only to limit the volumes of funding devoted to these projects (to 20% of aid initially, compared to 30% for Parliament), but also to be able, for a few years, to reallocate part of this funding to traditional projects, assuming that demand from farmers is not at the level of supply.
“The ministers are only worried about funds allocated to eco-schemes and not used, without imagining for a moment that they could prove to be insufficient in the face of strong demand from farmers”, annoys MEP Peter Jahr. “We must not only look at the percentage of eco-schemes, but also the other conditions” of the CAP pursuing the same objective, retorts in substance Maria do Céu Antunes, the Portuguese negotiator.
The negotiators should try, again, to find a compromise in June, at the next meeting of European ministers of agriculture. With a marked sense of urgency: everyone knows that a compromise will be more difficult to find in the second half of the year, when Portugal has handed over the rotating presidency of the Council to Slovenia.