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EU ministers “quickly” call for more measures to calm farmers

EU ministers “quickly” call for more measures to calm farmers

The ministers of agriculture of the European Union They asked this Monday to the European Commission (EC) What present “quickly” measures “more ambitious” to respond to farmers’ protests, as Member States consider that “they are not enough” those raised so far.

The Community Executive announced that it will propose that some of the environmentally friendly conditions that farmers must respect to receive support from the Common Agricultural Policy become voluntary and reopen the CAP regulations to introduce modifications.

“The Council (the countries) invites the Commission to quickly complete this set of measures (already presented) with other more ambitious measures”declared the Belgian Minister of Agriculture, David Clarinval, whose country presides over the Council of the EU this semester, in a press conference.

Clarival made this statement after the meeting of Agriculture Ministers of the Twenty-seven held today to address the farmers’ demonstrations.

He recognized that the Community Executive has withdrawn the legislative proposal to reduce the use of pesticides and has approved to partially suspend during 2024 the obligation for farmers to keep a percentage of their land fallow, measures that farmers had to comply with to receive support. of the CAP.

With the partial repeal already adopted, instead of keeping land fallow or unproductive on 4% of the arable land, farmers will be able to plant nitrogen-fixing crops (lentils, peas or broad beans) or catch crops without phytosanitary products.

Furthermore, last week the Community Executive presented a battery of short and medium-term measures to alleviate the administrative burden that weighs on farmers.

Clarinval assured that, depending on the countries, all these measures “they were going in the right direction” and which will constitute “the first concrete step” in order to respond “quickly address some of the concerns of farmers at the European level.”

“But the Council believes that this is not enough“, he claimed.

He pointed out that countries are asking for greater flexibility in the conditions related to the maintenance of fallow lands, crop rotation and minimum soil coverage in the most sensitive periods.

The European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, said in the same press conference that he will propose making these three conditions voluntary and also the one linked to maintaining stable permanent pasture areas.

It opened the door for the current CAP regulations, in force between 2023 and 2027, to be reopened to review the environmentally friendly conditions that must be implemented in the primary sector to obtain the support of the CAP.

He said that both the Council and the European Parliament, EU co-legislators, support the Commission making proposals to review the CAP regulation with respect to these conditions and considered that it would be “theoretically possible to achieve this during this legislative mandate if we react quickly”, before the elections to the European Parliament next June. And he is for it.

According to Clarinval, countries also demand a “simpler” procedure to modify national strategic plans in which States indicate how they are going to implement the CAP and better coordination of controls. The Commission is also willing to consider these options.

The Belgian minister added that several countries requested an increase in the minimum level of state aid that can be granted to the primary sector without the European Commission having to give the green light.

Wojciechowski said that he will propose to the Community Executive to do so and will also propose extending during 2024 and 2025 the temporary framework on state aid for the war in Ukraine, which includes agriculture.

The delegations also requested to examine that free trade agreements “be well balanced” or the impact of the invasion of Ukraine on the markets, according to Clarinval.

Sources from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture considered that “in the right direction” and that the European Commission “He has understood Spanish concerns and this is reflected in the document” on simplification proposals presented last week.

They highlighted that the exemption from controls on whether cross-compliance is met for small farmers is in line with a Spanish proposal, which will benefit the 55% of CAP recipients in Spain, although they represent only the 6% Of the surface.

Source: Gestion

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