To ensure the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) delivers real results in supporting farmers and leads the sustainable development of EU agriculture, the European Commission has planted simpler rules and more flexibility.

This is the key idea behind the communication adopted by the European Commission on “The Future of Food and Farming”. It outlines how the oldest EU common policy remains future-proof.

As reported by a European Commission press release, allowing member states greater responsibilities to choose how and where to invest their CAP funding in order to meet ambitious common goals on environment, climate change and sustainability is the flagship initiative.

“The Common Agricultural Policy has been on our plate since 1962,” said Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President in charge of Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. “While we have to make sure it keeps delivering for example healthy and tasty food for consumers and jobs and growth to rural areas, the CAP also has to evolve along with other policies.”

According to Katainen, their proposal is an important step to modernise and simplify the CAP, following the results of the broad consultation with stakeholders.

“The new delivery model introduced by the Commission will provide greater subsidiarity to member states and calls them to establish CAP Strategic Plans, which will cover their actions under pillar I and pillar II, enabling simplification, better coherence and monitoring of results.”

In turn, Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, stressed the CAP will be able to deliver on new and emerging objectives such as fostering a smart and resilient agricultural sector, bolstering environmental care and climate action and strengthening the social-economic fabric of rural areas. It also marks a significant step change in the implementation of the CAP. Instead of the current system, a new implementation system will be introduced, giving MS/regions a much greater degree of subsidiarity.”

The European People’s Party (EPP) was the first political group to outline its vision for the future of the EU’s CAP.

“The CAP is at the heart of European integration and must continue to be,” said EPP President, Joseph Daul. “We support a fair, result-driven CAP, respecting subsidiarity and local conditions while adhering to common EU rules. EPP strongly supports maintaining the two-pillar structure and we welcome that the Communication by Commissioner Hogan is aligned with our position. We expect that there will be no co-financing of the direct payments and any attempts at renationalisation of the CAP will be avoided.”

The reaction from the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Group was less positive.

“It is very worrying that the document presented by the Commissioner for Agriculture does not recognise the responsibility of the CAP in the declining number of farms in the European Union in any way,” said GUE/NGL Coordinator on the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Lidia Senra. “It fails to acknowledge that the volatility of prices for agricultural products is a consequence of the neoliberal policies that have deregulated the agricultural sector. Nor does it address the negative impacts that the agro-industrial model has on climate change and food quality.”

According to Senra, the Commission is putting an unreasonable amount of responsibility on farmers to address the risks of climate change and agricultural crises themselves, while at the same time continuing the policies that make these problems worse.

“It is also disappointing that the European Commission continues to use the CAP to reinforce the export-oriented direction of farming in the EU. This model destroys small and medium farming in the EU – as well as in third countries – and violates the right of people everywhere to food sovereignty,” she added.