Transition to the new CAP: Rules agreed in European Parliament

On 28 April, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI) of the European Parliament voted on the rules of the transition regulation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Transitional rules are the general rule to bridge two consecutive programming periods, but this time they will probably last longer and cover the years 2021 and 2022.

The new CAP was supposed to be applied  from 1 January 2021. However, considering the current state of negotiations, the basic acts will not be adopted very soon and its entry into force will be delayed. Moreover, the 4 regulations the CAP is composed of (Rural Development, Horizontal, Direct Payments, Common Market Organisation) will be inapplicable in practice as of 2021 as they do not contain the necessary Union support or national ceilings beyond 2020.

For these reasons, the European Commission came up with a proposal for the transitional period of 2021 last autumn. The main aspects of the proposal are:

  • The same rules as in the current CAP apply, with new budget allocations equal to those in the CAP proposal and coherent with the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 budget.
  • If Member States  decide not to prolong their current rural development programmes, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EARDF) allocations for 2021 will be transferred to the EARDF allocations for 2022 to 2025.

Yet, the European Parliament declared that a one-year transition period would be insufficient, given that neither the new CAP nor the new MFF are close to be agreed. Its proposal is the following:  if the new CAP and the new MFF are not agreed between Council and the Parliament by 30 October, the transition period will be  prolonged by one year (until 31 December 2022).

Moreover, whereas the Commission’s text states that “for new commitments to be undertaken as from 2021 Member States (MS) shall determine a shorter period of one to three years in their rural development programmes”, the Parliament proposes to allow Member States to have 5 year-long multiannual programmes for agro-environmental/climate, animal welfare or organic measures.

IFOAM EU supports COMAGRI’s position to allow organic farmers entering 5-years schemes for conversion and/or maintenance in 2021. However, uncertainty remains regarding budgetary issues: will the next MFF be ambitious enough to support sustainable practices, including in the transition period?

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