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17 January 2013|Finance,News

MEPs set for marathon CAP vote


MEPs have been urged to 'strip out the bureaucracy' of CAP reform proposals ahead of a marathon vote in the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee next week.

The European Union's budget will shape the future direction of the CAP and a final decision would not be taken on reform until the budget for 2014 and 2020 is agreed.

Some CAP proposals are hotly debated, they include measures to set a higher environmental standard and equalising payments in Eastern and Western EU nation states.

In total, MEPs submitted nearly 8,000 amendments to the Commission's reform proposals.

There are fears in France that the new EU budget could cut the subsidies given to farmers. The Cypriot presidency of the European Union published a document saying "the total level of spending proposed by the Commission... will be revised downwards".

But UKIP MEPs have expressed criticism of the amount that the UK contributes to the EU budget.

"We are looking at a latitude that extends 200 miles north of the Arctic circle, down to the bottom corner of Cyprus. Personally, I don’t think it is viable, particularly with all the different languages involved" Stuart Agnew MEP said.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: "We have been working with the MEPs throughout the process, but this is a particularly important time where the politicians will really put their stamp on the reform process."

"Over the past few weeks we have sifted through the 8,000 amendments to identify which should be supported in the vote – namely those that will strip out unnecessary bureaucracy, provide the conditions for farmers to thrive in an open market and allow our producers to compete on a level playing field with the rest of Europe."

Since September, when the process of pulling compromises together began, officeholders and members have been in constant dialogue with Parliament’s decision makers in order to influence the shape of those compromises.

As part of those efforts, a high level delegation to Strasbourg in November met over 20 of the key players and the NFU’s office in Brussels has co-ordinated all of the European lobbying activities with colleagues across the organisation.

"The MEPs involved in the CAP talks have done a remarkable job making sense of the record-breaking number of amendments tabled earlier this year" said NFU President Peter Kendall.

"MEPs set themselves an ambitious internal deadline of the end of the year and I am pleased that they have managed to knock the bulk of the amendments, into a more meaningful, workable and acceptable shape."

A huge part of the European lobbying focus has been on addressing the unnecessary bureaucracy and costs associated with the Commission’s proposals.

Raymond said: "In particular we are supporting measures to change the Commission’s greening proposals which, as they stand, would add huge administrative complexity and create a sizeable dent in our productive capacity."

"We are also working with MEPs to limit Defra's ambition to unilaterally cut farm payments by up to 20 per cent and to make sure there is an acceptable transition period to allow farmers sufficient time to adjust to the move away from the historical payment model."

The Agriculture Committee will vote on Wednesday January 23 and Thursday January 24 and ahead of the vote the NFU is contacting the MEPs and providing them with suggested voting lists.

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