The European Commission has requested that some €55.8bn be allocated to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the 2021 EU budget.

In the draft EU budget for 2021, some €40.8bn is to be allocated to the direct payments and crisis reserve fund, a drop of 8.4% on the same figure in the 2020 budget.

The Commission has said the drop “is mainly linked to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, and taking into account the significantly lower amount of assigned revenue expected to be available in 2021”.

The remaining €15bn will be assigned to the Rural Development Programme. The Commission will now send the draft budget to the European Parliament and Council to debate and then agree on it. It is expected to be agreed by November.

Negotiations on the overall budget for 2021-2027 remain ongoing in Europe.

Share of the budget

In the context of the overall EU budget for next year, some €166bn, the CAP will command a 33.6% share.

As has been the case over the last number of CAP reforms and EU budgets, the share of the EU budget which the CAP holds continues to wane. It accounted for over 55% of the EU budget in 1985.

Analysis by the European Commission shows that the money in the CAP as a percentage of EU spending has also dropped greatly since the 1980s, with the Commission admitting that the share has decreased very sharply over the past 25 years.

In 1985, the CAP accounted for 73% of EU spending. This dropped to 37.2% in 2018.

“This decrease has taken place despite the successive EU enlargements. This downward trend in the CAP's share of EU spending is mainly due to CAP reforms and the growing share of other EU policies,” according to the Commission.

CAP spending as a percentage of EU expenditure. \ European Commission

CAP budget

At last week’s European Council meeting, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar reiterated calls for a fully funded CAP budget in the next EU budget to 2027.

“Despite the increased allocation for rural development under the recovery proposal, and the increased allocation in the CAP in the revised MFF, I said that what was now on the table was not acceptable to Ireland and does not meet the test of ensuring adequate funding into the future.

“Our farmers are experiencing considerable difficulties in exports with prices collapsing as a result of COVID, global disruption to trade routes, Brexit, and increased competition from third countries.

“As we increasingly talk about Europe’s resilience, we need to underpin a strong agri-food sector, providing Europe with food security, and helping us achieve our climate goals.

“A strong and properly funded CAP is needed if we are to achieve this and we can settle for nothing less,” he said.

EU food security

Meanwhile, comments this week by the European Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevicius show the thinking in relation to food and farming in some quarters in Brussels.

Sinkevicius said that he believes food security is not a major concern for the European Union.

"Other challenges dominate our food systems such as food waste, overconsumption, obesity, and its overall environmental footprint,” he said.

As reported by the Irish Farmers Journal this week, the CAP came into effect to pay farmers to produce food to feed Europe and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has said that food security is a major challenge for some parts of EU society.

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