Commission proposal doesn’t respond to needs of Europe’s farmers and rural areas

 

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Brussels, 29 November 2017 –  The process to reform the CAP, which ECVC together with other civil society organisations and movements have been accompanying, reached an important milestone today with the European Commission’s communication on the future CAP.

 

In its 26 pages, the document shared by the Commission, acknowledges a series of difficulties and issues faced by rural areas, however, despite a discourse that at first seems to be attentive to European producers and rural communities, the solutions proposed continue to be limited to the symptoms of the problem and largely avoid the root of the crisis.

 

Below we highlight a series of issues that deserve special attention, due to the impact they have on peasant agriculture, the quality of life in rural areas and the food system of the European population.

 

Market risk management – price volatility. The Commission continues to promote income insurance as a remedy to the revenue crisis suffered by producers. For ECVC and its members this is not a solution. Volatility is not inevitable; volatility results from the destruction of market regulation instruments. Therein lies the problem and the solution.

 

Direct CAP aid and its distribution. The Commission also continues to promote the distribution of aid according to hectares. Aid decoupled from activity and based on hectares falls short of meeting CAP objectives and accentuates the problems of land control and accumulation, and reinforces the unacceptable unequal distribution of public resources. We appreciate the intention for a fairer distribution of CAP aid, but we recall that there is a long way to go between intention and concrete action, as we witnessed in the last CAP reform, where high expectations ended in a sense of frustration.

 

Strategic plans. The Commission CAP document proposes a new system for the distribution of CAP aids,  based on the fulfilment of general objectives – at European level – and on strategic plans defined by Member States. ECVC considers that in principle it could be interesting to adapt the implementation of the CAP to local and regional realities, but it is essential to clearly define the objectives to be achieved, and to ensure the participation of farmers organisations in the drawing up of strategic plans, as well as in advising the sector and monitoring the adaptation and compliance process.

We reject any attempt through this proposal to renationalise the CAP.

 

Promote rural prosperity. The European Commission presents bio-economy as an essential component to boost rural development. However, it is not the bioeconomy that will revitalise rural areas, but rather the promotion of an agricultural system with numerous and diversified farms in the territory, through the implementation of collective mechanisms for transformation, sales, etc. It’s through diverse agricultural activity in the many territories, destined to become food, that we can truly develop our rural areas.

 

Attracting new farmers. It’s good that generational renewal is among the priorities of the new framework, but in the current context, it’s difficult for ECVC to imagine young people attracted to agriculture, when permanent crises affect the production sectors dependent on sales to companies and distribution chains; not to mention that the way things currently are, their future is very much determined by the situation of international markets which subject farmers to price volatility, income insecurity and speculation.

 

Health, Nutrition, Sustainability. Much is said in the Commission’s Communication about Health, Nutrition, Sustainability, but it still hasn’t defined the agrarian, food and commercial models that are capable of ensuring healthy, nutritious and savory food, that is environmentally friendly, that assures animal welfare and that can also help to fight climate change and promote jobs and rural life. For ECVC the model that answers all the above is the model of peasant, family and sustainable farming, supported by peasant men and women across Europe.

 

Contacts:

·        Jose Miguel Pacheco Goncalves (ECVC Coordination Committee) : +35 19 6872 1995 – PT, ES

·        Geneviève Savigny (ECVC Coordination Committee) : +33 62 555 1687 – FR, EN, ES

·        Antonio Onorati (ECVC Coordination Committee): +39 3408 2194 56 – IT, ES, FR, EN

 

Photo: Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), 17 February 2016. (MONER JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)