Paolo De Castro, S&D MEP and Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development in the European Parliament, met with Ed Bray, deputy editor of Agra Facts / Agra Focus, at the 5th Forum For the Future of Agriculture to discuss the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
With the CAP reform process underway, the European Parliament now has equal say on the outcome for the first time in its history. On the other hand, the chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development points out that the parliament has already had its first experience with co-decision – it previously decided, in conjunction with the Council, on the Dairy Package.
Discussing the institutional dynamics, De Castro points out that his Committee drafts the CAP reports for the Parliament, but he notes that the final vote will be taken by all MEPs in the directly elected house. He elaborates by revealing that it is a tough job to secure a majority within the Agriculture Committee, but a large majority of the entire Parliament is expected to follow suit once agreement has been reached between the Committee members.
According to the chairman, the European Parliament will push for three essential issues with regard to the pending CAP proposal;
– Simplification of bureaucracy; the greening proposals seem to complicate matters for both farmers and Member States, he said
– Flexibility; given the significant disparities between Member States, national capitals should be given more flexibility to implement agriculture policy on their territories
– Market Measures; tools should be provided to farmers in order to manage the risks of price volatility.
Final points of discussion included current fears that CAP reforms could be “taken hostage by the economic crisis”, as budget decisions are made at the highest level by national leaders, not by Agriculture Ministers or MEPs. De Castro stresses that Parliament will have significant influence on the outcome of the talks and has demanded to see budget figures before taking the final vote on the CAP.