The trialogues between the European Commission, the Council, and Parliament to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which started at the end of last year, are expected to end during the first half of 2021.
In an interview with Efeagro, the spokesperson for the EC in Spain, Ioannis Virvilis, stated that one of the most debated issues was the regulation of strategic plans, especially the CAP's green architecture. He also said that the eco-schemes (aid linked to sustainable practices), would be discussed towards the end of spring. "There have been many advances regarding the conditionality of these strategic plans, i.e. what farmers must do to receive direct aid," Virvilis stated.
More environmental demands
According to the spokesman, the reinforcement of environmental requirements will better link the CAP and the European Union's Green Pact. He said they would set specific rules to verify direct payments and eco-schemes, and that voluntary commitments in favor of greener agriculture will be supported with funds from the first and second pillars of agricultural policy. According to Virvilis, they still need to determine the level of financial ambition of these objectives, i.e. what percentage of the CAP funds will ultimately be used for the agri-food sector to contribute to the environment.
In addition, they still need to decide the mechanism that will be put in place for the member countries to inform the European Commission about their use of aid, and the indicators that will be necessary to monitor the results of the CAP and the Green Pact.
The Commission published a list of possible eco-schemes last January and shortly afterward the Spanish Government presented a nine-point proposal to the autonomous communities, which includes aid to promote the sustainability of pastures and the use of phytosanitary products, soil fertility, or biodiversity.
Even though the countries still haven't finalized their national plans, the EC is in constant contact with national authorities to help them prepare their plans and has given them different recommendations. The spokesman said that the Spanish should address several areas, such as increasing the area for organic farming, actions to reduce nutrient losses, and the modernization of water infrastructures and irrigation systems.
They also need to advance in the internal convergence and distribution of direct aid to homogeneous groups of territories; promote the integration of primary producers and the business exploitation of their farms; as well as decrease greenhouse gas emissions and the risks posed by pesticides.