The CAP towards 2020
The future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should be based on supporting agriculture which performs well both economically and ecologically and on preserving a sound agricultural sector in all EU territories. The European Union (EU) should use a strong Common Agricultural Policy to develop the potential for smarter, more sustainable and more inclusive growth in rural areas.
Communication from the Commission of 18 November 2010 - The CAP towards 2020: Meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future [COM(2010) 672 – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication identifies the challenges facing agriculture and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the coming years. These challenges have been identified based on past experience, the current economic situation and an extensive public debate organised in 2010.
Through this Communication, the Commission is launching themes for consideration, relating to the future of the CAP. It proposes to adapt the current CAP objectives to the new challenges which have been identified. In particular, the emphasis should be on strong, quality agricultural production, on protecting natural resources and on maintaining the agricultural sector in all EU territories.
Lastly, the Commission explains which instruments would enable the fixed objectives to be met. These instruments should enable the CAP to be greener, fairer, more efficient and more effective.
Global demand will continue to increase in the coming decades. The EU must be in a position to respond. It is essential that the EU maintains and increases its production capacity.
European citizens want high quality and a wide choice of food products, reflecting high safety, quality and animal welfare standards. A strong agricultural sector is vital for the highly competitive food industry to remain an important part of the EU economy and trade (the EU is the leading world exporter of mostly processed and high value added agricultural products).
Agriculture can put pressure on the environment (water pollution, soil depletion, water shortages and loss of wildlife habitats), but it can also have positive effects (climate stability, biodiversity, landscapes and resilience to flooding).
The EU shall endeavour to limit the negative effects of agriculture and to encourage its positive contributions. The future CAP shall promote energy efficiency, carbon sequestration, biomass and renewable energy production and, more generally, innovation.
Balanced territorial development
Agriculture remains an essential driver of the rural economy in the majority of EU countries. It is necessary to maintain a competitive and dynamic agricultural sector which attracts young farmers in order to preserve the vitality and potential of rural Europe.
In order to achieve the objectives stated above, the Commission plans to adapt the direct payments system to ensure that payments are better distributed and targeted.
It is proposed that future direct payments should support farmers’ basic income through the granting of a basic decoupled direct payment, with an upper ceiling, targeting of ‘active farmers’, a simple support system for small farmers and the consideration of areas with specific natural constraints.
The Commission proposes to improve the grant criteria relating to the environment through a mandatory ‘greening’ component of direct payments targeted at agricultural practices which address climate change and environmental objectives (permanent pasture, green cover, crop rotation, ecological set-aside, etc.).
The Commission specifies that the CAP should keep the overall market orientation of agriculture while also maintaining the management tools which have demonstrated the important role they play in times of crisis or disruption. In the coming years, certain agricultural markets must evolve, in particular the regime currently in place in the sugar sector which is due to expire in 2014/2015.
The Commission believes that more general measures must be taken in order to improve the functioning of the food supply chain, which should be more transparent and within which bargaining power should be more balanced.
Rural development policy
Lastly, the Commission highlights the importance of the rural development policy which the EU carries out through the CAP. It proposes to strengthen the environmental element and to improve coordination of this policy with other European policies.
The Commission proposes to focus on the competitiveness of agriculture by encouraging innovation, promoting good management of natural resources and supporting balanced territorial development balance by encouraging local initiatives.
As well as enhancing the promotion and quality optimisation tools, the Commission believes that a risk management toolkit should be included to deal more effectively with income uncertainties and market volatility.