CAP, European Parliament calls for more resources for agribusiness to cope with Covid-19

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On 4/28/20, the Agriculture Committee (COMAGRI) of the European Parliament calls on the European Commission to grant more resources and flexibility to the agribusiness sector in the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) transition. Cash already set aside in the crisis reserve must be tapped, thunders COMAGRI Vice President Paolo De Castro. Is Europe at a crossroads?

CAP, post-2020 transition

The Transitional Regulation proposed by the European Commission provides an automatic one-year extension of payments already established in the 2014-2020 CAP. COMAGRI, the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament, on the other hand, is clamoring-at its first meeting by videoconference on 4/28/20-for payments to farmers to be guaranteed automatically for an additional year, until 1/1/23. Without tying the continuity of agricultural subsidies to the unlikely achievement of an agreement on the long-term EU budget(Multiannual Financial Framework, MFF) and CAP reform within the short time frame.

‘Farmers need predictability, stability and financial continuity and a clear horizon for the next two years.’ (Elsi Katainen, rapporteur on the Transitional Regulation dossier in COMAGRI, European Parliament, 4/28/20)

COMAGRI vote, following confirmation in plenary (13-14.5.20), gives mandate to negotiate new terms of the transition, with a view to a final agreement with member states (Council) and the European Commission. Possibly by 30.6.20, when Croatia hands over the Council presidency to Germany. The European Commission after all, according to internal rumors, has already planned a 2-year extension for the 2014-2020 cohesion policy, precisely in light of the Covid-19-related health emergency.

Agricultural subsidies, new resources instead of unacceptable cuts

COMAGRI’s proposed negotiating mandate reaffirms the need to prevent further cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy in the next long-term budget (MFF 2021-2027). Funding for agricultural policy must be maintained at the same level as that prepared for the 2014-2020 period. Confirming, in fiscal years 2021-2022, the funds established in EU 2020 budget in order of direct payments, rural development and support plans.

‘We cannot do more with fewer resources. Member states must prepare for the new CAP quickly and with adequate resources during this transition period’. (Elsi Katainen, MEP)

New funds must also be allocated for the crisis reserve. Agricultural crises should be financed outside the CAP budget as early as 2021, taking advantage of compensation. To immediately remedy severe income reductions and losses caused by adverse weather events, animal or plant disease outbreaks, or pest infestations.

Peanuts are not enough for 10.5 million farmers

On 4/30/20 Paolo De Castro – former Minister of Agriculture in Italy who now coordinates the S&D(Socialists and Democrats) group in COMAGRI, of which he is now vice president (president in the past legislature) – frontally attacks Commissioner Januzs Wojciechowski. The 77 million euros of ‘exceptional measures‘ announced on 4/22/20, as it turned out, are peanuts for the 10.5 million farmers in the EU.

‘The commissioner shirks the calls for help coming from the entire agricultural sector in Europe. We know that the CAP budget is running low, but there is available the 478 million euros that farmers gave up precisely to create a crisis reserve. And Wojciechowski, who today says he is in favor of its activation, shirks his responsibilities and tries to throw the ball into the member states’ court.

The Commissioner’s proposed package of anti-crisis measures overlooks the serious difficulty of supply chains such as veal and pork. And the lack of liquidity for kneeling industries such as floriculture. There is also a lack of flexibility in the use of funds from fruit and vegetable operational programs, with the inability to increase EU funding rates for support plans. Not to mention the absence of European funds for wine, and the possibility of injections of national resources that lead to obvious risks of distortion of competition, and overly timid measures that do not contemplate, for example, the possibility of blending wines from different vintages and partial green harvesting’.

Europe at a crossroads?

Europe would almost be said to be at a crossroads, noting the vivid words of one of its historic supporters, Paolo De Castro. ‘European farmers deserve more courage from those administering the CAP, not a handout of 7 euros. We will continue to stand by the producers, ready to give battle and – if necessary – not excluding to make our support for these measures lacking’.

Ingratitude so far expressed by Germany, unmindful of colossal debt cancellations (in 1953 and 1990. V. 2,3) – and by the Netherlands, the Old Continent’s ‘strict’ tax haven that has taken huge resources away from member states now most in need of liquidity – seems, among other things, destined to result in conditional measures of Hellenic memory (4,5). Everything one does not need.

‘However you look at them, the drugs indicated to cope with the emergency and the long production and social crisis, which will follow, will lengthen the survival time of the sick person, but they will not attack the disease.’ (Vladimiro Giacché, economist)

Italy must free itself from the grip of the aut-auts. Overcome the failed dogmas of the same economists who dragged the peoples of Europe into the abyss, activate a national bailout plan (6,7). If not now, when?

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1)
Transition to new EU farm policy: MEPs approve key provisions for after 2020
. European Parliament news. 4/28/20, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20200427IPR77909/transition-to-new-eu-farm-policy-meps-approve-key-provisions-for-after-2020

(2) Gregori Galofré-Vilà, Christopher M Meissner, Martin McKee, David Stuckler.
The economic consequences of the 1953 London Debt Agreement.
. European Review of Economic History, Volume 23, Issue 1, February 2019, Pages 1-29, https://doi.org/10.1093/ereh/hey010

(3) Oscar Ugarteche Galarza. The Debt Reduction Germany Received in 1952 (and 1990). Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt. 5.3.15, https://www.cadtm.org/The-Debt-Reduction-Germany

(4) Giuseppe Masala, Dario Dongo.
ESM emergency and state-eating fund.
. Égalité. 3/16/20, https://www.egalite.org/emergenza-mes-e-fondo-divora-stati/

(5) Marco Bersani. EUROGROUP: the meal is not free. Here is what we know to date. The Manifesto. 11.4.20, http://italia.cadtm.org/eurogruppo-il-pasto-non-e-gratis-ecco-cosa-sappiamo-a-oggi/

(6) Giuseppe Masala, Dario Dongo.
The gray swan, the coming economy and parallel internet networks.
. Égalité. 14.4.20, https://www.egalite.org/il-cigno-grigio-leconomia-che-verra-e-le-reti-internet-parallele/

(7)
National salvation plan
. Bill and measures to be taken, https://pianodisalvezzanazionale.it

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.