It is a good thing our common agricultural policy is regularly updated. This key pillar of European policy must be fit for purpose, which is to secure sufficient good food for all Europeans.
EU commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has now presented proposals for the policy after 2020. These proposals make the requirements for farmers simpler and more flexible. I am happy the Commissioner has reacted well to the frequently heard complaints from farmers about the huge administrative burden.
However, I have questions when it comes to shifting responsibility to Member States. I wonder if all Member States are sufficiently equipped to take on extra checks, sanctions and monitoring procedures. The question is how we will ensure that the Member States implement their competences in a correct way.
The proposal to keep the system of direct payments in place is certainly a good step. A significant proportion of European farmers would not have survived the recent crisis periods without the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
But I stress that something must change in the distribution of direct payments. We cannot allow that 80% of direct payments goes to only 20% of the farms. I therefore welcome the proposal for a ceiling for direct payments from 60,000 to 100,000 euros per company. The introduction of such a ceiling must be accompanied by sufficient monitoring of compliance with the measure.
I am sure that Commissioner Hogan will provide more clarity in the long term about the implementation of the new CAP. I advocate a system that compensates farmers for delivering green (ecosystem) services and blue (water) services to society.
In addition, fair market-based compensation for landowners and land users should be central. A large majority of the European Parliament supported this idea already in a vote last month.
Furthermore, I would like to include measures in the CAP that improve soil life, soil fertility and CO2 sequestration by increasing organic matter content. This would offer great opportunities for a climate-efficient agriculture and horticulture sector.