In light of the ongoing discussions about the future of agriculture in the European Union and the frame of the Common agricultural policy after the year 2020, it is utterly important to outline that as one of the most significant EU policies the CAP is responsible for the provision of food security through reasonably priced foods for nearly the whole European population.
In the meantime, in order to respond to the challenges EU agriculture is faced with, rational and adequate decisions need to be made. The challenges include: improving competitiveness within the internal market as well as the external markets, market uncertainties, plant health problems, harmful weather conditions and natural disasters, overcomplicated administration and implementation of countless requirements, standards and controls (administrative and financial burdens), Brexit, the EU being one of the biggest importers of foods and agricultural products. The next CAP period should implement effective instruments and mechanisms to overcome those challenges. This can only be achieved through a strong, stable and consolidated budget.
Building on these challenges and in according to the main goals of the CAP, i.e.:
– to increase agricultural productivity;
– to ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community;
– to stabilise markets;
– to assure the availability of supplies;
– to ensure that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices
The Bulgarian National Grain Producers Association insists that the new CAP:
• Maintain Direct Payments
Decoupled support should remain, since it in fact:
– is a compensation for farmers for applying European norms and standards. In this respect, competitiveness on the international commodity markets is highly dependent on direct support payments because the expenses for meeting requirements could not be included in the selling price of the product;
– is a main instrument to guarantee a certain level of security and stability of farmers’ revenues;
– plays an important role for agriculture in less favoured areas.
According to NGPA, it is unacceptable to have co-financing from the national budgets of in the First pillar. Considering the differences of the expenditures between Member States, this could only create disadvantages for some of them. Moreover, national co-financing does not correspond to the idea of a “fair support” through the equalisation of direct payments and the abolition of the historical method in defining their levels. Disproportions between old and new Member States should be overcome in the next CAP period by making sure that the gap between country rates of SAPS is at least minimised, if not totally closed.
• Include a simplified procedure in direct greening schemes
Greening is supposed to help sustainable usage of natural resources without causing reduction of productivity and revenues.
Current difficulties with the application of green measures are caused by too much administration and complicated procedures for applying and implementing requirements from farmers. These can be avoided by giving Member States more flexibility to choose which instruments to apply, according to their own land peculiarities and restrictions.
In addition, a simpler method for the calculation of the separate requirement components is needed in order to implement greening measures more easily.
• Maintain the coupled support scheme
The currently applied coupled support should be maintained after the year 2020: also by keeping in mind the economic input and potential of the production of goods in the target sectors.
• Implement digitisation
One possible solution to reducing the administrative burden for farmers is the implementation of a system where applying for direct support schemes is done through submitting electronic documents. This alone will improve efficiency and ease the farmers’ access to public services.
• Apply efficient risk management tools
The current CAP does not have efficient tools to counteract and/or reduce the negative consequences from sudden fluctuation in prices, climate and plant health risks. Protective tools and effective mechanisms for prevention in case of crises in the sector should be developed outside of the First pillar.
• Remove the Second Pillar of the CAP
Up to now the implementation of the investment measures of the Second Pillar in Bulgaria has not brought the results it had set out to achieve. The Second Pillar has become an instrument for abusing resources, irrational spending, and draining of funds through supporting speculative, unsustainable and dysfunctional projects which basically makes it redundant. It should also be noted that the Rural Development Programme generates the perpetual process of corruption schemes and an enormous administrative burden for both public authorities and farmers.
Based on this, Member States ought to be allowed to make the decision of whether to apply the Second Pillar. Unless the possibility is included in the next CAP, then the next framework of the Rural Development Programme is to feature only a low number of measures and guaranteed sectoral budgets. The measures then should be attractive and available for farms with an economic input and potential.
• Include capping of national co-financing for the agricultural sector
In order to minimise competitive disproportions between farms from different Member States, it is necessary that there is a limit of how much they may support their farmers through national co-financing schemes. The level of national co-financing should not exceed 30 % of the amount of the national financial package. The introduction of such a rule will help with true cohesion between Member States by allowing equal conditions on EU level.