Members of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee have called for an increase in Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) spending or at least for it to be ‘maintained at its current levels,’ in the next multiannual financial framework (MFF), the EU 's budget from 2020.

The MEPs newly published opinion aims to counter fears that the next CAP budget will suffer from budget cuts and Brexit, as the UK contributes billions of euros towards the policy evey year.

The opinion, backed by 32 MEPs, including Ireland's Mairead McGuinness, will add weight behind discussions for increased funding in CAP.

Compensate for this loss by finding alternative forms of financing, for example by increasing Member States’ contributions

“Brexit will have a projected impact of between €3.8bn and €4.1bn a year on the CAP, and [MEPs] calls therefore on the Commission to compensate for this loss by finding alternative forms of financing, for example by increasing Member States’ contributions as a percentage of gross national income,” the opionion passed by the MEP’s stated.

They also noted that the CAP budget was no longer the biggest EU policy, and its share of the budget had dropped from 75% to 38% in the last three decades. "Whilst farm subsidies only account for an insignificant amount in relation to the Member States’ total GDP, they are essential for ensuring continuity infarming and security of income for farmers," the opinion adds.

Some of the points they put forward to ensure future funding included:

  • Providing more access to young farmers to enter farming, and a support mechanism for older farmers to exit the industry.
  • A limit on individual farm payments at €50,000, €100,000 or €150,000.
  • Further simplification of the CAP funding system, to "reduce the administrative and financial burden for farmers".
  • Increase member state contributions by over 1% of the gross national income to make-up the shortfall in funding post-Brexit.
  • Keep the CAP as a fully integrated EU policy and resist suggestions to make national governments pay for a portion of direct payments.
  • The rapporteur on the file, Sofia Ribeiro, said that the vote "sent a strong signal to the Commission that the agricultural sector was one of the most important pillars of the EU and that is needs to be adequately financed".

    The opinion will be considered by the European Commission in March, after scrutiny from the Budget Committee.

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