EU leaders agreed to reduce overall CAP spending by 13% compared to the 2007-13 period.
Farm ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday (25 February) to discuss reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the wake of an agreement by the European Council on the European Union's budget for 2014-20.
Government leaders agreed at a summit two weeks ago to reduce overall CAP spending by 13% compared to the 2007-13 period, more than the 10% reduction proposed by the European Commission. Rural development programmes will be hit hardest because of a provision in the summit deal allowing member states to switch up to 25% of rural development funds into the part of the CAP budget that covers direct subsidies to farmers.
The Commission's proposal to require 30% of direct subsidies to be conditional on meeting environmental criteria has been eroded. National leaders specified in the long-term budget that member states should be able to define themselves what counts as a greening measure. They also said the funding could not be made dependent on setting aside 7% of fertile land for biodiversity purposes, as proposed by the Commission.
Monday's meeting is expected to agree the main outline of the member states' position.
The agriculture ministers will also discuss the ongoing scandal involving horsemeat found in products labelled as beef. Yesterday (20 February) the European Commission reiterated that no health threat has yet been identified and therefore it would not trigger the EU's early- warning system.
But member states have put in place a plan to test products across Europe. The programme, which will be funded by the European Union, is testing some 2,250 samples of beef products for the presence of horsemeat. In response to the crisis, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe and other groups are calling for the EU to create a centralised record of horse ‘passports'. Such records are currently only national.
Fisheries ministers meeting on Tuesday will adopt a general approach to reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The Council's position has already been set but there are several areas still being negotiated, the most controversial being a discard ban.
The European Parliament voted earlier this month for an immediate end to discards. Member states are divided on the issue, with many wanting to delay a discard ban until 2020.
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