A leaked budget proposal being put to EU leaders which involves significant cuts to CAP must be resisted, Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness has warned.
McGuinness said if the proposals are accepted, the EU will fail to deliver on its commitments to tackle climate change in a way that provides a just transition and supports farmers.
Crunch talks on the EU’s budget will take place when the European Council meets in Brussels on Thursday 20 February.
“The UK's departure from the EU leaves a gap in funding for the remaining 27 member states, but the European Parliament believes that an ambitious Europe should make up some of the gap rather than cutting vital EU programmes,” the first vice-president of the parliament said.
Farmers required certainty about funding, the Fine Gael MEP said, yet all they saw coming down the tracks were more demands to address biodiversity and climate issues, with less money to do so.
The leaked proposals from the Council’s president Charles Michel would hit both direct payments and rural development schemes.
The funding for rural development, which includes schemes such as GLAS and ANC, would take the heaviest cut of 25% compared with the previous budget.
“This is nothing short of a disaster, as rural development is where tailor-made measures can be introduced to tackle specific issues, including habitat restoration, animal welfare and capital investment in better control of farm effluent,” McGuinness said.
“The EU is committed to tackling biodiversity decline and has ambitious climate targets, yet the budget proposed is anything but ambitious.
“In reality, it lacks ambition and is a budget of the past, not one fit for the future.”
The proposals also contain funding for a “just transition fund” of €7.5bn. This fund was promised to aim vulnerable sectors transition to a low-carbon economy.
However, the leaked proposals show it will be financed from cuts to a range of policy areas, including agriculture.
McGuinness said it was unacceptable that additional funding was not being made available.
“The lack of ambition sadly reflects a desire among a few member states to curtail the EU and keep their contributions from increasing at a time when an increase is not just needed, but is essential,” she concluded.
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