Charles Michel’s MFF proposal puts second-pillar budget at risk

Ahead of the extraordinary Council on EU’s long-term budget, the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), Council President Charles Michel presented the current negotiating box.

In 2018, the European Commission proposed an overall budget worth 1.11% of the EU’s gross national income (GNI), the European Parliament asked for 1.3% and Member States are not willing to go beyond 1.074%.

The CAP budget has decreased sharply over the past 25 years, and this trend is now accelerating with the gap of €75 billion caused by Brexit and the need to finance new priorities like defence, research and innovation and migration. The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) seems to be the most affected.

In the budget battle, there is a clear divide between ‘frugal’ Member States, like Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. They want to keep the budget at 1.0% of the GNI and want less money for agriculture and cohesion. This is opposed to many eastern and southern countries that are willing to safeguard agriculture and rural development spending.

Michel has put forward a €256.7 billion budget for the first pillar (in 2018 constant prices), representing a €2.5 billion increase compared to Finnish presidency’s proposal. However, money allocated to the second pillar is cut by €7.5 billion and is now capped at €72.5 billion.

The organic movement cannot accept such a decrease in the second pillar of the CAP, which is the most environmentally ambitious and ensures job creation and dynamism in rural areas. This proposal is nor in line with the new challenges faced by the agricultural sector, neither with the ambitions of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy.

To support this ambition, the post-2020 CAP budget should at the very least be maintained at the current level. Moreover, IFOAM EU strongly encourages to set a mandatory minimum requirement for each CAP Strategic Plan to dedicate at least 70% of the budget to climate action, environment and animal welfare.

On 20 and 21 February, Heads of State and Government had intense negotiations but did not reach an agreement on the MFF. “We have worked very hard to try to reconcile the different concerns, the different interests, the different opinions on the table. But we need more time” concluded President Charles Michel.

I accept I do not accept